United Kingdom

Christian Porter resigns from cabinet

Christian Porter has resigned from cabinet over revelations he accepted money from a blind trust to pay for his lawsuit against the ABC. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed Mr Porter stood down as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology and would return to the backbench. 

The former attorney general tendered his resignation on Sunday afternoon because he couldn't give enough information about who the anonymous donor was to avoid perceptions of a conflict of interest.

The Prime Minister said their discussions were about upholding standards as he thanked Mr Porter for his services as minister.

Mr Porter has since released 1600-word statement on his resignation, claiming he was subject to a  'trial by media.'

He also indicated his plans to remain in politics and has nominated for preselection to be the Liberal candidate for his seat at the next election.

'In relation to Minister Porter over the course of the last few days, and in the discussions that we have had, the inability for him to be able to practically provide further information because of the nature of those arrangements, if we were able to do that, that would allow the Minister to conclusively rule out a perceived conflict, and as a result of him acknowledging that, he has taken the appropriate course of action to uphold those standards by tendering his resignation as a minister this afternoon, and I have accepted his resignation,' Mr Morrison told reporters on Sunday.

'His actions have been about upholding the standards.' 

'We believe they are incredibly important, and it is not just about actual conflicts, it's about the standards for ministers to have an obligation to avoid any perception of conflicts of interest that is ultimately what has led the Minister to make that decision this afternoon.

'Mr Porter, by taking the decision he has done today, that is the appropriate decision in these circumstances, that reinforces our government's commitment to those standards.'

Mr Porter released a lengthy 1600-word statement a short time later, stating he was 'not willing to put pressure on the Trust to provide me with any further information' on donors, claiming it would make them 'targets of the social media mob'.

Christian Porter (pictured with wife Jennifer before they separated) has vowed to recontest his seat

Mr Porter sued the ABC over a story that revealed a senior cabinet minister was accused of raping a teenage girl.

Mr Porter outed himself as the minister days later in February and vehemently denied the allegations that dated back to 1988 when he was 17.

The woman in 2019 came forward to police and accused Mr Porter of raping her when she was 16.

However, she chose not to go forward with the case and took her own life days after informing police of her decision.

The case was closed in March 2021 when police found there was not enough evidence to proceed. 

Mr Porter then sued the ABC for defamation, arguing it was easy to identify him as the minister involved.

He described the heavy toll the allegations have had on him.

'Facing a false allegation is an experience that places your family, friends and staff under enormous and cruel pressure. 

'It has resulted in constant abuse and ongoing threats. For me personally, the physical threats of violence, the experience of being spat at and publicly abused for something I didn't do has been nearly beyond comprehension in a civilised country. 

Mr Porter added he understood the media's questions raised in the media about the financial arrangements to help fund the now settled litigation but believes he provided the information required under the Members' Register of Interests. 

'I also considered that the additional disclosures I provided under the Ministerial Standards were in accordance with its additional requirements.

'However, after discussing the matter with the Prime Minister I accept that any uncertainty on this point provides a very unhelpful distraction for the government in its work. 

'To the extent that that uncertainty may be resolved by seeking further information in relation to the identities of the contributors, this would require me to put pressure on the Trust to provide me with information to which I am not entitled.

'I am not prepared to seek to break the confidentiality of those people who contributed to my legal fees under what are well-known and regular legal structures, including the confidentiality attached to the trust contribution.'

Angus Taylor will take over Mr Porter's role as acting Angus Taylor as the acting science and technology minister.

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