Late last year, Four Corners aired Inside the Canberra Bubble, an explosive investigation that questioned the conduct of some of the most senior politicians in the nation.

It explored the workplace culture within Australia’s federal Parliament House, a culture that can be both toxic and career-destroying for women.

The story focused in part on the conduct of Attorney-General Christian Porter.

At the time, there was an allegation that we were unable to report on.

It was alleged that the Attorney-General had committed a serious crime long before he entered politics: the rape of a 16-year-old girl in 1988.

Mr Porter has come forward to vehemently deny the allegation.

Now we are able to bring you the story behind the allegation and that of the woman who made it, who took her own life in June last year.

Christian Porter’s accuser (right) pictured with friend and fellow debater Jo Dyer.(



The woman was a historian by training who was doing a PhD.

She had been one of the most brilliant high school debaters of her generation. Until her life unravelled.

The woman and Christian Porter were two of Australia’s best four high school debaters.

In January 1988, the national schools debating team was invited to the World Universities Championships held at the University of Sydney.

In his press conference vehemently denying the allegation, Mr Porter said the team members were friends and he was not in a relationship with the woman who later made the accusation.

“I was 17 years old and the other person was 16. We were both selected, with two others, on the Australian Schools Debating Team and we went to Sydney University for an international competition. It was a long time ago and I’d always remembered it as a happy time,” Mr Porter said.

The woman seated next to Christian Porter at a formal dinner event at the Debating Championships in 1988.(



“I didn’t say I remembered it very well, I remember it as a happy time. It was 33 years ago. I remember the person as an intelligent, bright, happy person, but I hadn’t had any contact from that person, at all, to the best of my recollection, in the 33 years since that time in January 1988.”

Fellow debater Jo Dyer said her friend had told her that Mr Porter had walked her back to the college accommodation after a formal dinner.

“[She] told me that they had been out dancing, drinking, partying until late — very late. They were walking back to the university campus. Christian offered to walk [her] back to her college,” she told Four Corners.

In a statement, prepared for her lawyer in 2019 when the woman decided she wanted to pursue the alleged incident, she alleged that Mr Porter raped her that night in her room.

Christian Porter’s accuser pictured in her debating blazer.(



There are no witnesses who can corroborate that the events she described occurred.

Mr Porter has strongly denied the allegation.

“Just it didn’t happen, and it’s not true,” Mr Porter said during his press conference.

“No-one is beyond an allegation, no-one. If you could just imagine for just — and I know that we’re all cynics and this is a hard and tough and fast environment that we’re all in — but just imagine for a second that it’s not true, that for whatever reason the recollection and the belief, which I’m sure was strongly held, is just not true.

“I can say categorically that what has been put in various forms and allegations simply did not happen.”

Her friends and fellow debaters from the time, Jo Dyer, Matthew Deeble and Nick Ryan, have spoken to Four Corners in support of her allegations.

Friends and former fellow debaters Nick Ryan, Jo Dyer and Matthew Deeble have spoken out in support of their friend’s allegation.(

Four Corners


Former Law Council of Australia president Arthur Moses told Four Corners the allegation could never be proven because the police have no sworn statement from the woman.

“So there is no record of interview, as we understand it, between the complainant and the police that could be the subject of admissible evidence,” he said.

“And there is no evidence from any third parties that they witnessed [the] alleged sexual assault.”

Nick Ryan and Christian Porter’s accuser in their high school debating days.(



The woman’s career never lived up to the huge promise she had shown.

The older she got, the more she struggled. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been hospitalised. She attempted suicide several times.

There’s no way of knowing what caused her mental health problems.

Four Corners has been told that she first sought help from a sexual assault counsellor in about 2013 and saw the counsellor about six times.

The woman pictured later in life.(



The counsellor has told Four Corners that she disclosed to her an allegation about a boy she referred to by his first name as Christian, who had been a fellow debater.

The woman reported her allegation to NSW Police in 2020 and police set up a strike force with a view to commencing an investigation into the historical allegation.

Ultimately, the COVID pandemic stymied her plans to make her formal statement to police.

She became very depressed and checked herself into a psychiatric clinic in Melbourne.

The woman struggled with her mental health before taking her own life.(



The week after she left the clinic, she told police she did not want to proceed with the complaint.

The day after that, on June 24, at her home in Adelaide, she took her own life.

NSW Police subsequently closed the case, stating that there was insufficient admissible evidence to proceed with the investigation.

Last week, South Australia Police delivered their report on her death to the state’s coroner.

The coroner released a statement saying that following media reporting, he regarded the investigation as “incomplete” and has asked for further investigations, after which he will decide whether to hold an inquest.

On Thursday, the woman’s family also released a statement saying that they would support “any inquiry” into the circumstances surrounding her death.

Fellow debater Mr Deeble, who was with her on the night of the alleged rape, is also calling for an inquiry.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has given Mr Porter his full support and has refused to commission an independent inquiry.

The woman (right) and her friend Jo Dyer in their high school debating days.(