Why Porter wasn’t interviewed by cops
NSW Police have revealed why they never interviewed former Attorney-General Christian Porter over a 1988 rape allegation and confirmed the alleged victim tried to deliver a statement via Skype during the coronavirus lockdowns.
Outlining new information about how the case was handled, police have confirmed the woman who accused Mr Porter of rape asked to deliver her witness statement via Skype during the COVID-19 pandemic - a request the NSW Police resisted and her friends and family were never interviewed after her death.
The woman ultimately decided to withdraw her complaint after COVID delayed the meeting with detectives and died by suicide at home just 24 hours later.
Mr Porter strenuously denies the allegations that relate to a 1988 debating conference in Sydney. He has launched defamation action against the ABC over the reporting of an anonymous letter sent to the Prime Minister setting out allegations against a member of Cabinet.
He subsequently self-identified himself as the target of the allegations.
It was the woman's decision to withdraw the complaint that resulted in police not interviewing Mr Porter after her death, according to NSW Police.
"It is current standard practice that once a signed victim statement has been obtained from a victim and further corroborative enquiries are made, the formal allegation can and should be put to the person of interest as per procedural fairness principles for investigators," NSW Police said.
"On June 23, 2020 the (alleged) victim clearly communicated to investigators that she no longer felt able to proceed with the report. The NSWPF did not have a signed statement from the (alleged) victim, hence no formal allegation to put to the person of interest. In keeping with the (alleged) victim's wishes no further investigation took place and the person of interest was not interviewed."
NSW Police established Strike Force Wyndarra in February 2020 after receiving information from Mr Porter's accuser.
Detectives from Strike Force Wyndarra were due to travel to Adelaide to take the woman's formal statement in March 2020 but their trip was postponed after the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Wednesday June 24, 2020, the woman's body was located at a home at Adelaide by South Australia Police. She had committed suicide just hours after telling police she did not want to proceed with a formal complaint.
In answers to questions on notice, NSW Police confirmed the complainant did ask to provide a formal statement over the telephone or via video.
"Yes. On April 1, 2020, the (alleged) victim requested that she commence her statement by way of Skype," the response states.
"Investigators consulted with the (alleged) victim on April 2, 2020 by way of teleconference. Options were presented to the (alleged) victim in relation to obtaining her statement. A joint decision by all parties was made not to conduct the interview remotely. There were a number of reasons which led to this decision. The (alleged) victim was understanding and supportive of this decision."
NSW Police also confirmed they made six telephone calls to the woman which were not answered.
The alleged victim also made two telephone calls to investigators which were not answered. On both occasions the woman's missed calls were returned within seven minutes and five hours and 26 minutes respectively.
NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the responses from NSW Police demanded further explanation.
"These answers raise yet more questions about the response of the NSW Police," he said.
"When you speak to experienced investigators who have dealt with historical allegations they will tell you it's not perfect but sometimes it's the only option to take a statement by phone or video link.
"What is very distressing here is that this was an option that was requested by the complainant and open to police but for whatever reason was taken off the table."
The answers provided also detail the Australian Federal Police decision to brief the NSW Police on the letter outlining the allegations rather than send it to investigators in full.
The letter requested urgent action be taken by the Prime Minister to investigate the 1988 alleged rape.
It urged the Prime Minister to set up an independent parliamentary investigation into the matter, similar to that commissioned by the High Court into allegations against former Justice, Dyson Heydon.
"When news of [the complainant's alleged] rape becomes widely known to the public (as it most likely will), legitimate questions will be asked as to who knew what, when they knew and what they did," the letter states.
"This is occurring today in relation to Brittany Higgins. The loss of respect for our political institutions will be exacerbated.
"There will be considerable damage to community perceptions of justice … and the parliament when this story becomes public if it is simultaneously revealed that senior people (like yourselves) were aware of the accusation but had done nothing.
"Failing to take parliamentary action because the NSW Police cannot take criminal action would seem like wilful blindness."
The South Australia Coroner is yet to determine whether to conduct a public inquest into the woman's death.
Originally published as Why Porter wasn't interviewed by cops