Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter has vigorously denied allegations he raped a 16-year-old woman in Sydney more than 30 years ago.
Addressing the country from a press conference in Perth on Wednesday, Mr Porter declared his innocence, stating the accusations made against him are “not true”.
“The only thing that I can say, the only thing I’m ever going to be able to say, and it’s the truth and it’s that nothing in the allegations that have been printed ever happened,” he said.
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The Senior Minister revealed he had met the woman, who was aged 16 at the time, at an end-of-school debating competition at the University of Sydney in 1988, while he was aged 17-years-old.
He admitted they had spent time together, but said they were never alone and were in the company of another two boys.
“I did not sleep with the victim, we did not have anything of that nature happen between us,” he said.
“I can say categorically say that what has been put in various forms, in allegations, simply did not happen.”
Mr Porter said he made the “difficult decision” to remain silent over the past few days in order to follow the rules and processes of the law.
“I was determined to follow the process set out by the AFP commissioner. It’s a process which, because of my background I know well, to not comment on allegations through the media because it risks prejudicing any investigation,” Mr Porter said.
“So I have waited until the NSW police have concluded their investigations.
“While I have followed the rules and stayed silent, I have been subject to the most wild, intense and unrestrained series of accusations that I can remember in modern Australian politics.”
Through tears, the 50-year-old apologised to his colleagues, who he said have become the “target of allegations and speculation themselves.”
“My colleagues are my friends and I deeply apologise for that,” he said.
Mr Porter said he will be taking a period of leave to address his mental health, but confirmed he will not be standing down from his position.
“After speaking with my doctor, I’m going to take a short period of leave to assess and hopefully improve my own mental health,” he said.
“All of my life I have pushed through, but for the many caring family and friends who have asked me that question over the past week, I have to say I really don’t know.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I’m going to seek some professional assessment and assistance on answering that question over the next few weeks.”
The allegation was made public last week after an anonymous letter was sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
However, NSW police confirmed on Tuesday that they had closed their investigation into the matter due to “insufficient admissible evidence”.
In the statement, police said the woman attended an Adelaide Police Station in November 2019 seeking advice about reporting historical sexual offences, which allegedly occurred in 1988 in Sydney.
The matter was then referred to NSW Police, but for “various reasons the woman did not detail her allegations in a formal statement,” police said.
The woman withdrew her complaint before taking her own life in June last year.
New South Wales Police says it came into possession of a personal document purportedly made by the woman before her death.
“NSW Police have since sought legal advice in relation to these matters,” it said in a statement.
“Based on information provided to NSW Police, there is insufficient admissible evidence to proceed.
“As such, NSW Police Force has determined the matter is now closed.”
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