The Guardian Australia
NSW police have formal statement from friend of woman who alleged Christian Porter raped her
New South Wales police have now taken a formal statement from a longtime friend of the woman who alleged she was raped by Christian Porter, but insist the investigation remains closed.
In answers to NSW Estimates, the police have revealed that Macquarie Bank managing director, James Hooke, a friend of both Porter and his accuser for 30 years, was known to them as far back as July but until recently did not wish to make a statement because “he understood why the investigation had been closed”.
The NSW Police have also explained their controversial decision not to seek a statement from Porter, arguing without a signed statement from the victim there was no formal allegation to put to him, and revealed the victim asked for, but then decided against giving a statement via Skype.
Porter has been accused of raping a 16-year-old in January 1988 when he was 17. He strenuously denies the allegation.
On 12 March Hooke went public, revealing he had “relevant discussions” with Porter’s accuser from “mid-1988 until her death” in June 2020 and with Porter from 1992 onwards.
The revelation prompted the NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, to promise to re-examine the case, which was closed when the alleged victim indicated to the NSW police that she no longer felt able to pursue the complaint, before taking her life in June 2020.
In answers to supplementary questions on notice in NSW Estimates, the NSW police have revealed they were in possession of an email from Hooke that had been forwarded to them by a friend of the victim on 2 July, shortly after her death.
“Mr Hooke did not of his own accord email investigators, nor was he copied into the forwarded email to investigators,” the police said.
Hooke was copied into further emails to the NSW police on 2 and 4 March, before eventually calling them on 5 March – “the first occasion that Mr Hooke had made contact of his own accord”.
“During this discussion Mr Hooke did not wish to discuss the allegations made by the victim but rather wanted to let investigators know that he understood why the investigation had been closed.”
The NSW police explained they believe Hooke was “referring to the victim no longer wanting to proceed with her report and the subsequent investigation being closed”.
“Further, he rang to thank investigators for the support and respect that was shown to the victim.”
NSW police explained they did not take a statement from Hooke because “in the majority of historical sexual assault investigations the first statement to be taken is normally the victim’s statement” and, given the alleged victim withdrew the complaint, “no further witness statements were obtained”.
But on 12 March, Hooke went public with “information investigators were not privy to”, NSW police said.
In his statement Hooke said: “I continue to be devastated by the untimely death of my very dear friend and I am enormously concerned for the privacy and dignity of [her] family. I am also concerned for the wellbeing of Christian Porter. I have known all of them for approximately 30 years. We all find ourselves at a very upsetting time.
“Mine is a just one set of recollections and I am aware of the fallibility of human memory, however unintentional. That said, I have what I consider to be clear recollections of relevant discussions I had with [the woman] over the years from mid-1988 until her death.
“I also have what I consider to be clear recollections of relevant discussions I had with Christian Porter from April 1992 and through the mid-1990s.”
Porter has said he had no contact with the victim since January 1988, and only became aware of “rumours” in the “vaguest terms” in November that he “had in some way offended against the person 33 years ago”.
In their answers, the NSW police revealed that, on 17 and 22 March, Hooke supplied a formal statement.
“This statement provided by Mr Hooke does not change the position of the NSW police force. The investigation
“On 23 June 2020, the victim clearly communicated to investigators that she no longer felt able to proceed with the report … Investigators will continue to respect this request.”
The answers also contain fresh details of engagement between the alleged victim and NSW police. The NSW police said there had been “no delay in the contact between [police] and the victim” because when the alleged victim first contacted South Australian Police in November 2019 she was only seeking information on process, and did not decide to formally report the matter until February 2020.
On 1 April 2020, the victim requested that she commence her statement by way of Skype. The NSW police said they held a teleconference on 2 April, 2020 during which “the victim declined to provide investigators with copies of her diaries and notes”. In that teleconference, police said “a joint decision by all parties was made not to conduct the interview remotely”.
“There was only one application made by Strike Force Wyndarra for travel to South Australia,” police said. “This application was made on 10 March 2020 and declined on 13 March.”
The NSW Police explained that on 15 March 2021 the Australian Federal Police sent them the alleged victim’s written statement and a “summary” of the anonymous letter to Scott Morrison. They did not seek the full letter because the investigation had been closed.
The NSW Police said they concluded there was not sufficient admissible evidence because the victim had not given a “signed statement” when she decided to withdraw.
“The [NSW Police] did not have a signed statement from the victim, hence no formal allegation to put to the person of interest.”
Hooke has said that Porter is entitled to the presumption of innocence “in relation to any criminal prosecution” but has also offered “to testify under oath at any appropriately convened inquiry” into “important non-criminal aspects of this matter”.
Scott Morrison has steadfastly refused to call such an inquiry, declaring Porter is an “innocent man under our law”.
Instead, the South Australian coroner will consider whether the alleged sexual assault should be included in a potential inquest into the woman’s death.
Porter has launched a defamation case against the ABC and Louise Milligan, which may also test the allegation if it proceeds to trial and the broadcaster and investigative journalist invoke the defence of truth.
Porter has been reshuffled out of the attorney general’s portfolio into science and technology, also losing the position of leader of the house.