News Corp denied documents from case about Christian Porter’s star barrister Sue Chrysanthou

Publisher argued court should be as transparent as possible given ‘extraordinary’ public interest in case

News Corp has failed in its bid to gain access to redacted documents tendered during last month’s federal court case which stopped barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC acting for former attorney general Christian Porter.

In the federal court on Thursday, lawyer for the Murdoch-owned publisher, Justin Quill, sought access to documents submitted during a four-day hearing earlier this month, arguing the court should be as transparent as possible given the “extraordinary” public interest in the case.

Brought by Jo Dyer, a friend of the woman who accused Porter of raping her three decades ago – a claim he denies – the case centred on whether Porter’s star silk should be banned from acting in his now-defunct defamation case against the ABC.

After a four-day hearing in June, Justice Thomas Thawley sided with Dyer, finding Chrysanthou had come into information which could present a “danger of misuse” during a conference with Dyer in November last year.

Much of the case was heard in closed court, and despite the defamation case being sensationally dropped by Porter, a significant chunk of evidence tendered during the case, as well as exhibits, have remained suppressed.

Following Thawley’s ruling last week that both Porter and Chrysanthou pay Dyer’s costs for the four-day trial, both parties were back in court on Thursday to discuss what elements of the case would be made public.

Lawyers for Dyer left open the possibility of a disciplinary complaint being made against Chrysanthou, saying they would seek to widen the breadth of the publication of the restricted material to include people involved in “professional disciplinary proceedings”.

“Because … there may well be the possibility that there would be such a proceeding or investigation arising in this case where it would be relevant to see the material that is confidential,” Dyer’s barrister Michael Hodge QC said.

Meanwhile Porter’s barrister, Christopher Withers SC, argued some of the exhibits, including text messages sent by Dyer, should be made public.

Lawyers for Dyer and Porter will appear again on Friday before a final order is made on what material from the case may become public, but Thawley quickly threw out an attempt by lawyers for News Corp to gain access to the material.

Quill appeared seeking access to evidence tendered during the case. He asked Thawley to gain him restricted access to the file to allow him to make submissions on what material should be made public.

Quill argued that because the case involved “the former attorney general of this country” there was an “extraordinary” public interest in the case and the court should be “as open and transparency as possible”.

But Thawley quickly dismissed the application, saying he was “adequately assisted” in deciding what parts of the evidence should be made public by both parties in the case.


Michael McGowan

The GuardianTramp

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