SYDNEY — Lawyers for Christian Porter and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will enter mediation, amid a further delay in the federal minister’s defamation case.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is defending its reporting of a rape allegation Porter denies, says the parties will be participating in mediation on May 28.

“Mediations are very common in defamation matters, and it is important that all litigant parties seek to explore potential resolution options when they can, especially so for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a model litigant,” a spokeswoman said on May 27.

Porter’s solicitor would not confirm the parties were mediating but said such a course was a requirement in almost all defamation cases.

“Parties ought to engage in a mediation at the earliest possible opportunity before significant costs are incurred,” Rebekah Giles said in a statement.

The Australian Broadcast Corporation has until 5 pm on May 28 to file an affidavit and submissions to Porter’s application. (Danny Casey/AAP Image)

“The parties to this case are no different and are complying with their obligations as litigants in the Federal Court.”

The Federal Court on May 27 published an order clarifying that the parties were not prevented from providing suppressed material to “any mediator appointed by the parties in connection with any mediation in the proceeding”.

Porter was attorney-general when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation published a report in February stating a now-deceased woman had alleged a cabinet minister had raped her when they were both under the age of 18.

The report didn’t name the West Australian Member of Parliament but, in court documents, Porter claims information in the report narrowed it to a small number of men, and online searches for his name spiked after the report’s publication.

He later outed himself as the subject of the report, while denying the rape allegation.

Porter took leave before being appointed as industry, science, and technology minister.

Christian Porter addresses media in Perth, March 3, 2021. Attorney-General Christian Porter has confirmed he is the cabinet minister at the center of historical rape allegations but firmly denies the claims. (Richard Wainwright/AAP Image)

The court, earlier on May 27, also postponed a case management hearing set down for May 27 afternoon, and extended a deadline for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to file other documents.

The documents relate to Porter’s application to have parts of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s defense struck out.

Much of the matter subject of the strike-out application is also the subject of a suppression order.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has until 5 pm on May 28 to file an affidavit and submissions to Porter’s application.

The matter is then due to proceed to a two-day hearing before Justice Jayne Jagot next on June 1.

It is unclear when a hearing in the main defamation lawsuit will take place.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Nikita Nikhil)



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