Risk Update

Australian ABC Conflicts Allegation — “Treadmill” Discussion and a Three-day Hearing

Christian Porter’s barrister discussed conflict of interest before taking ABC defamation case” —

  • “Former attorney-general Christian Porter’s top barrister in his defamation case against the ABC has revealed she had key conversations about whether she should continue in the case while running on a treadmill in a Melbourne hotel.”
  • “Sue Chrysanthou is being challenged over an alleged conflict of interest in the Federal Court, after she gave legal advice to someone linked to the allegations against Mr Porter before taking on his case.”
  • “Mr Porter is suing the ABC over a story about an unnamed cabinet minister accused of a historical alleged rape. The article, published in February, did not name the attorney-general as the subject of the complaint, but Mr Porter’s legal team claim he was easily identifiable. He has strenuously denied the allegation.”
  • “The hearing into Ms Chrysanthou’s alleged conflict of interest has been running for three days.”
  • “It was also revealed that Mr Porter’s barrister had given some advice to Ms Dyer and others about a separate legal matter, before taking on Mr Porter’s defamation case. Ms Chrysanthou gave evidence at the hearing today and told the court she initially hesitated before taking Mr Porter’s case. ‘I said ‘I have to check, because of a conference I had,’ Ms Chrysanthou told the court. She also confirmed her junior solicitor told her taking the case was a bad idea. But Ms Chrysanthou said she took advice from more senior lawyers and decided there was not a problem.”
  • “Ms Chrysanthou did agree there might be a question about whether the information Ms Dyer gave to her in the meeting was confidential or not, but said she accepted legal advice that said that was not an issue.”
  • “She said she discussed an undertaking not to cross-examine Ms Dyer or another witness with instructing solicitors and possibly Mr Porter, while she was on a treadmill in a Melbourne hotel.”
  • “During the three-day hearing into the alleged conflict of interest, the court has been closed several times while the confidential material said to have been exchanged between Ms Chrysanthou and Ms Dyer was discussed.”