The NSW Police Commissioner says a historical rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter “probably” would not have made it to court even if the alleged victim was still alive.
Speaking on Nine Radio, Mick Fuller was asked why NSW Police declared the matter closed.
“Unfortunately, in this case, we hadn’t been able to take an admissible statement from the [alleged] victim in this matter,” he said.
“It is not impossible but almost impossible to proceed with a matter like this without the victim.
“The matter itself, even with the victim, probably would’ve struggled to get before a court; these are challenging matters, particularly when they’re historic.”
Mr Porter “categorically” denies the allegation, saying “it did not happen”.
The woman approached NSW Police early last year, but contacted them to say she did not want to take her complaint any further in June and did not make a formal police statement.
She took her own life the next day after suffering mental illness for a large part of her life. There is no way of knowing what caused her mental ill-health.
Commissioner Fuller acknowledged that it takes courage and strength from anyone wishing to come forward with historical allegations, and to see them through to court if possible.
“We need to focus on victims in these matters, we need to focus on their journey through the justice system, and how difficult it is,” he said.
“I think focussing on Mr Porter, it’s not going to change things.”
Government will not change its mind on inquiry
Minister for Women Marise Payne reiterated the Prime Minister’s stance that the government would not begin an independent inquiry to look into the allegation.
“I absolutely understand and appreciate that this is an extremely difficult set of circumstances, in fact it is unprecedented,” she said.
“And it would be unprecedented if we moved to establish an inquiry of this nature based on an allegation.
“That would mean that any person in Australia, in any role, in any job can be put in the position of ignoring the rule of law.”
She said the rule of law was one of the principles of living in a democratic country.
The opposition and friends of the woman have both called for the inquiry.
Meanwhile, SA Police have been given extra assistance from the coroner to continue its investigation into the woman’s death.
“The investigation is continuing and once that investigation has been completed to my satisfaction, I shall determine whether to hold an inquest,” state coroner David Whittle said in a statement.
Sexual assault support services:
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (24 hours): 02 6247 2525
1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
Lifeline (24 hour crisis line): 131 114
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636