Passing Bull 315– An unsavoury crusade

The word ‘crusade’ has baggage – nearly all of it is bad. 

The crusade against Christian Porter did not help.  At least three people – Louise Milligan, Annabel Crabb, and Jo Dyer – were intent on causing him harm – enough to bring him down from government.  They wanted to rehearse an allegation of rape that had obvious problems – fatal issues according to those who decided whether they should be put before a court. 

In the end the three crusaders got what they wanted – although when challenged in court, they conceded that there was not enough evidence of rape against Porter – even on the civil standard.

That history of a flawed press campaign that got its victim should cause disquiet to a neutral observer.

One of the crusaders was not content to pursue Porter.  Jo Dyer also sued his counsel arguing that that member of counsel had advised her and received confidential information that she feared might be misused.  She succeeded in that application and got costs.  The court had so managed the application that the costs ordered came to $430,000.  That is a fearful disgrace to the whole legal profession.  But it suggests that Jo Dyer was prepared to wager about one million dollars to stop a lawyer passing on something that Jo Dyer did not want passed on.

Apart from the revolting quantum of the amount of costs on one side in a short application – in dollar terms, about forty times the cost of my first house in Toorak – there is something unsettling about an apparent lack of balance in the various court proceedings.

Now, according to The Australian, Aaron Patrick of the AFR has written a book to be published shortly.  In it, Patrick alleges that Porter said that he and Dyer slept together when they were university students at debating competitions.  When Patrick put this to Dyer, she described her encounter with Porter as ‘entirely inconsequential and statistically insignificant.’  Unsurprisingly, Patrick took that response ‘as confirmation.’ 

In a separate interview, Dyer had said ‘It is on the public record that Christian and I got on well when we first met, but there was never anything serious between us and I can’t imagine how our erstwhile friendship could be relevant to the serious allegations …made against Christian.’

I do not know if there may have been any legal consequences to the non-disclosure by Jo Dyer, or to the terms of such disclosure that has now been made.  I leave that to others.  But three comments are open.

However you might characterise the roles played by Louise Milligan and Annabel Crabb in their pursuit of Porter, the word ‘professional’ is not the first to come to mind.

However, you might characterise the response of Jo Dyer to the allegation of her carnal knowledge of her victim, the word ‘candid’ would not apply.  It was as silly as it was evasive.

And the whole grubby intrigue leaves an unseemly pall over the ABC which has not acted as our national broadcaster should.

But perhaps our language now has what might be called a brand-new Hail Mary – the phrase ‘entirely inconsequential and statistically insignificant.’  It may cast a whole new light on a famous aria about an infamous lover, Don Giovanni.  Leporello is hot to trot on statistical insignificance.  But his master would not have been amused by a suggestion of his pursuits being ‘entirely inconsequential.’

ABC- Milligan- Crabb – Dyer – Porter – lawyers – costs – candour – bullshit.

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