ABC pays Porter’s lawyer $100,000 to settle defamation case

The ABC agreed to pay $100,000 in mediation costs to Industry Minister Christian Porter’s lawyer as part of the settlement of his defamation case and spent a further $680,000 defending the matter.

Managing director David Anderson said the ABC was facing costs up to $1.5 million to defend the matter in a three-week trial, as he faced questions at a Senate estimates hearing on Monday about the broadcaster’s decision to settle the matter.

ABC managing director David Anderson has told a Senate estimates hearing that the ABC agreed to pay Christian Porter’s lawyer $100,000 for his mediation costs. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Mr Anderson revealed that Mr Porter had made two offers to settle the case before the ABC initiated mediation in May – one before the ABC had filed its defence and one after it had been filed.

He said there was a clause in the deed of settlement that allowed him to disclose the costs paid to Rebekah Giles, Mr Porter’s solicitor, to the Parliament.

“The ABC will pay to Company (Giles) the sum of $100,000 in respect of mediation and related costs,” Mr Anderson told the estimates hearing on Monday.

The ABC will also split the cost of the mediator, who cost about $31,000, with Mr Porter.

Mr Anderson declined to give his view of Mr Porter’s characterisation of the settlement, which he declared a “humiliating backdown by the ABC”, but defended the journalism and noted no damages had been paid to Mr Porter.

“The matter has been settled. Mr Porter has fully released the ABC from all claims,” Mr Anderson said.

“I will say the ABC has not issued an apology. The ABC stands by its journalism.”

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