The coroner has ordered police to further investigate the death of an Adelaide woman who claimed to have been raped by Attorney General Christian Porter.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Coroner David Whittle said evidence submitted to him Monday about the woman’s death in June 2020 was « incomplete. »
He has ordered one of his senior attorneys to contact detectives to gather additional evidence, including material received and published by the media in the past few days.
Mr. Whittle says that « as soon as this investigation is completed to my satisfaction, » he will decide whether to open a public inquiry into her death.
The 49-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, took her own life after bringing allegations of historical rape against Mr Porter, who is now the country’s chief law officer.
He went public on Wednesday afternoon to tearfully admit his innocence and said what allegedly happened during a trip to Sydney in 1988 « just didn’t happen ».
They declined to speak at their Adelaide home, but in a statement from their attorney, the woman’s family said the matter was sensitive and they did not want to speak publicly.
Under state law, the police investigate all suicides and prepare a report for the coroner, who then decides whether the circumstances warrant an investigation to investigate any evidence, problems, or systemic flaws.
« On the morning of March 1, 2021, police in South Australia served me with an investigation into the death of a woman in June 2020, » Whittle said.
« The woman’s death and related matters have been the subject of media coverage in recent days.
« While (SA Police) was providing me with information, I have found the investigation to be incomplete. This has been particularly evident from the information contained in recent media reports.
« Counsel Assisting the State Coroner has been hired to assist SAPOL with the additional investigations I have requested.
« The investigation will continue and once this investigation is completed to my satisfaction I will decide whether an investigation should be carried out. »
The SA police made a brief statement saying they would continue to assist the coroner with the ongoing investigation.
On Tuesday, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the preparation of a report to the coroner was « complete ».
« The involvement of the SA police in the circumstances that are currently being discussed in connection with the preparation of the report for the coroner – that has been done, » said Stevens.
Speaking on ABC radio Wednesday, Stevens said « NSW police were conducting the sexual assault investigation » allegedly on a trip to Sydney when the woman was 16, but the alleged victim was in SA lived.
« Unfortunately, that person died in June 2020 before NSW police made a formal statement, » Stevens said.
« Our obligation … is to conduct an investigation on behalf of the coroner and give a report to the coroner.
« What the coroner decides to investigate whether death is the coroner’s business. »
However, her friends, including lawyers and business leaders, have joined demands for a coronial investigation into her death.
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