The Commonwealth Attorney-General denies he raped a 16-year-old in 1988.
He denied the allegations in a sense, at least. He hadn't actually read them.
Christian Porter's boss, the Prime Minister, hadn't read them either. He was sent a dossier including a statement from the alleged victim, who has since died. Scott Morrison says he asked Mr Porter about it, and was assured it was not true. This was before the PM had received the dossier.
Mr Porter, a former champion debater, got up at a press conference on Wednesday and cast himself as a victim of the media.
He claimed no journalist had put the claims to him before publication. This wasn't true, and was later "clarified" by his unnamed spokesperson to mean "not before the ABC report last Friday".
He denied it all - "nothing in the allegations that have been printed ever happened". Careful to only refer to media reports, he wouldn't answer detailed questions because he hadn't read the details.
But while the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General both said they hadn't read the allegations, they were both content to say Mr Porter should continue in his job without further inquiry.
If by some wild chance they read the statement and are lying, that's appalling. But is it any better for the PM to decide there's no issue here, without having seen the details of the claim?
It may be inappropriate for the PM to show an accused a witness statement from the alleged victim before giving it to the police. But wouldn't Mr Porter be demanding to know what is being alleged?
This ignorance is self-serving: not knowing the particulars means you can claim you're the victim of an awful slur, but remain unaccountable, deflecting questions, saying you don't know the detail. This is the path our leaders chose.
Mr Porter claims to step down would be to destroy the rule of law. This is false. It wouldn't be a criminal investigation, but a public interest inquiry into whether he is fit to be in Cabinet. There has been no due process as NSW police haven't investigated.
"Presumed innocent" is a court process, different to "assumed" innocent. To assume he's innocent is to assume she's lying.
In May 2019 Mr Morrison said rape was underreported, so for survivors "it's important that their stories are believed and that they know that if they come forward, their stories will be believed".
Someone did. She is now dead. And neither the Prime Minister nor the stood-down Attorney-General had read her story before they decided to proceed as if it was false.
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