Porter accuser's friends 'obsessed'

·3-min read

Friends of a woman who had accused Christian Porter of rape were behaving like a cult and would "make it very bad" for his barrister, she says she was told.

Sue Chrysanthou SC says she was warned by colleague Matthew Richardson not to represent the former attorney-general in his defamation case against the ABC.

"He told me that he was worried for me and that his friends were upset or behaving like a cult on this topic, and that they wouldn't let it go and that they would talk to the media and make it very bad for me," she told the court on Wednesday.

Mr Porter will find out on Thursday whether he can keep Ms Chrysanthou on the defamation case when Federal Court judge Tom Thawley issues a ruling after an urgent four-day hearing.

The now-industry, science and technology minister filed to sue the ABC in March after it published the existence of allegations that he'd raped a woman in 1988. The woman took her own life last year.

Jo Dyer, a childhood friend of Mr Porter's deceased accuser, wants Ms Chrysanthou benched.

She says she gave the lawyer confidential information in a November meeting that could be used in the case. Ms Dyer believes she will appear as a witness in the defamation hearing later this year.

A distressed Mr Richardson tried to talk Ms Chrysanthou out of taking the case because of "what a mess it was going to be in the press" and because he thought his friends would defame her, the barrister said under cross-examination on Wednesday.

He later emailed her to say he believed she had a conflict of interest and could not act for Mr Porter.

Mr Richardson, the son of Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson, is close to James Hooke, another friend of the accuser.

He set up and attended the November meeting after inviting Ms Chrysanthou to advise Ms Dyer on a possible defamation claim over an article in The Australian. Mr Hooke also attended.

Mr Porter issued a press release in mid-May criticising the push to remove his lawyer.

He said he was "concerned" by the timing of Ms Dyer's lawsuit and that it had been widely known for two months that Ms Chrysanthou was representing him.

But Ms Dyer had been told by the silk's lawyers that initiating a lawsuit earlier would be premature.

Ms Dyer privately objected to Ms Chrysanthou acting in the case on March 15, the day it was filed.

Ms Chrysanthou denied that the purpose of the press release was to suggest the lawsuit had come as a surprise.

The court heard that the lawyer was unable to view emails about her conversation with Ms Dyer when she received Mr Porter's brief because she deletes her emails every few days.

Mr Porter told Sky News on Wednesday that the cost of the litigation would be a "massive drain" on him.

Ms Chrysanthou said on Wednesday that her personal costs for the stoush over her removal could be upwards of $150,000.

The silk says she'll do whatever the court orders, but admitted assisting Mr Porter in his preparation for the case about her removal.

Mr Porter also said his barrister was "fantastic counsel" and he'd like to keep her.

He says any confidential information discussed in the meeting is now in the public domain and there is no ethical problem with the lawyer acting for him.

The parties will deliver closing submissions on Thursday.

The defamation case will also be mentioned on Thursday afternoon.

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