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Australia’s largest law firm in uproar after taking Christian Porter as client

Michael McGowan
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP</span>
Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

The chief executive of the law firm representing Christian Porter is under fire after reportedly sending an all-staff email critical of the lawyer who took the case.

On Friday the Australian Financial Review reported that Annette Kimmitt, the chief executive of Australia’s largest law firm, MinterEllison, had sent an email to the firm’s more than 2,500 staff saying she was sorry for any “pain” caused by the decision to take the attorney general as a client.

Porter sought legal advice from a senior MinterEllison partner Peter Bartlett, one of Australia’s best-known defamation law experts, before revealing he had been accused of an alleged rape dating back 33 years. He has strenuously denied the claims.

The email from Kimmitt reportedly said Bartlett had not gone through the firm’s approval process before accepting the brief, and that she had only become aware of it through the media.

“The nature of this matter is clearly causing hurt to some of you, and it has certainly triggered hurt for me,” she wrote.

Related: An independent inquiry would give Christian Porter the opportunity to clear his name | Pauline Wright

The email has reportedly caused uproar within the firm’s senior ranks. The Australian reported the board had met on Wednesday to discuss the email, and partners had held a Zoom meeting with the chairman, David O’Brien, on Thursday.

According to the Australian, O’Brien informed them the board would investigate the appropriateness of Kimmitt’s email.

Though Porter has not yet announced any legal action, he did not it rule out when he addressed the allegations publicly for the first time this week. Asked if he would take defamation action he said he had not “fully contemplated” it, but would consider his options.

“Over the last week so much has been said of every imaginable type, some of the stuff online is just, just incredible,” he said. “I will look at it all.”

• In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. International helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org.