MinterEllison CEO Annette Kimmitt leaves after sending email criticising firm for taking Christian Porter as client


The CEO of Australia’s largest law firm has left a week after telling staff she felt “triggered” by the company’s decision to take on Attorney-General Christian Porter as a client.

In an email sent to staff at 10:00pm Wednesday MinterEllison chairman David O’Brien said it was “mutually agreed” Annette Kimmitt would leave the firm immediately.

Ms Kimmitt was appointed CEO in July 2018 and was halfway through a five-year contract.

“We have thanked Annette for her years of service and dedication and wished her well for the future,” Mr O’Brien wrote.

Her sudden departure follows the leaking of an email Ms Kimmitt sent to all staff last week expressing disappointment that the company had accepted Mr Porter as a client.

The email was sent just hours after Mr Porter held a media conference to strenuously deny raping a 16-year-old girl when he was a student in 1988.

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

Attorney-General Christian Porter took leave after he revealed he was the subject of historical rape allegations.(

ABC News: Hugh Sando

)

Ms Kimmitt learnt on the day, through social media, that senior partner and defamation expert Peter Bartlett was acting for Mr Porter.

“I know that for many it may be a tough day and I want to apologise for the pain you may be experiencing,” Ms Kimmitt wrote to staff.

She also suggested that MinterEllison’s involvement in the matter had not gone through the firm’s “due consultation or approval process”.

“Had it done, so we would have considered the matter through the lens of our Purpose and our Values,” she wrote.

A female lawyer at the firm, who did not want to be named, told the ABC that the reaction to Ms Kimmitt’s departure was divided.

She said some staff members felt that her comments in the email were inappropriate and that she had “overstepped the mark” by publicly criticising a senior partner.

But she said there was disquiet, particularly among younger staff, about the firm acting for Mr Porter in relation to the allegations.

“Internally, it is a live issue. Junior lawyers are upset about the firm acting for Christian Porter. That’s what Annette was responding to,” she said.

She said Ms Kimmitt’s departure had left many younger staff feeling “shattered” and in some quarters, there was a perception that the CEO was “unfairly pushed”.

She said said there was concern among female lawyers at the firm about what this episode meant for the role of senior women.

Jacqueline Burn, a marketing and communications consultant who has worked with law firms for the past 20 years, said she hoped “people wouldn’t see this as a gender issue”.

She believed it was naive to think the email would not be leaked outside the firm.

“She didn’t need to air the firm’s dirty laundry. She has implied there is a failure of governance. That was not necessary at all,” Ms Burn said.

“Her role was to support and illuminate the decisions and remind people that everyone is entitled to legal representation.”

The Law Society of NSW declined to comment on the matter.

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Christian Porter ABC defamation case stalls as judge considers lawyer’s alleged conflict of interest


There’s been a twist in former attorney-general Christian Porter’s defamation case against the ABC, with a friend of the alleged rape victim lodging a court action to remove Mr Porter’s barrister from the case due to an alleged conflict of interest.

Barrister Sue Crysanthou has so far represented Mr Porter, who is suing the ABC over a story about an unnamed cabinet minister accused of an historical alleged rape.

Mr Porter, who later revealed he was the subject of the accusation, has categorically denied the allegation.

His case is that he was defamed because he was identifiable from the material in the story.

Former attorney general Christian Porter is suing the ABC and reporter Louise Milligan for defamation.(

ABC News: Hugh Sando

)

An odd situation

There have already been some disruptions in the case since the ABC filed its defence.

Much of the broadcaster’s defence hasn’t been publicly released, with Mr Porter lodging an immediate application to have some of the case struck out.

Arrangements to hear that application were to be made today, but Justice Jayne Jagot — who is presiding over the defamation proceedings — started the hearing warning she may have to delay the matter, or ask Ms Crysanthou to quarantine herself from the case until the conflict-of-interest issue was resolved.

It’s an odd situation.

The challenge to Ms Crysanthou, which is a separate court action, has not been launched by the ABC, but by Joanne Dyer, a friend of the alleged rape victim referred to in the story Mr Porter is suing over. 

The court heard she was once a client of Ms Crysanthou.

Risk of ‘dreadful precedent’

Barrister Bret Walker, who represented Ms Crysanthou in this morning’s hearing, told the court Ms Dyer was effectively a stranger to the court.

He rejected the idea Ms Crysanthou should quarantine herself from the case.

Head shot of Louise Milligan.
Defemation proceedings have also been brought against ABC Four Corners reporter Louise Milligan.(

ABC News

)

“The threat is to Mr Porter’s right to his choice of counsel to appear,” Mr Walker told the court.

“It would set a most dreadful precedent.”

He also rejected the idea of a stay — a temporary halt in the case.

But Justice Jagot decided to delay the arrangements for the strike out application until after the conflict of issue claim was resolved at court in May. 

Minutes later Justice Thomas Thawley called on a case management hearing for the challenge to Ms Crysanthou. 

Lawyers in the case told the court they would need at least three days for the hearing, which is expected to involve cross examination of several witnesses.

Earlier Ms Crysanthou had asked the court to bring on the main defamation case before the end of the year.

There’s no talk about that being in doubt yet.

But even the lawyers admit things are tight, with case management of the strike out application put off until just days before the formal hearing, and Ms Crysanthou’s position possibly hanging in the balance until late May.

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Christian Pulisic makes defiant statement on Chelsea future after “very frustrated” claim


Christian Pulisic has poured cold water on recent speculation suggesting he would like to leave Chelsea this summer.

The Blues winger insists he is happy at Stamford Bridge and resolved to fight for a place in Thomas Tuchel’s starting XI.

Pulisic, 22, openly admitted he was “very frustrated” after he was left on the bench for Chelsea’s second leg with Real Madrid despite scoring a vital goal in the first Champions League semi-final encounter.

But the United States international – who arrived from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of £57.6million in 2019 – insists he sees his long-term future in west London.



Pulisic has often had to settle for a spot on the bench under Tuchel
Pulisic has often had to settle for a spot on the bench under Tuchel

“I’m obviously happy here. It has been an incredible two years,” Pulisic – who has scored six goals this season – told ESPN .

“People have always doubted and said: ‘Oh, he’s not playing, does he want to go here, does he want to go there?’

“I’m always up for a challenge, I love competing, I love the position I’m in and I’m enjoying my time here.”



The American says he is "enjoy his time" at Stamford Bridge
The American says he is “enjoy his time” at Stamford Bridge

Does Pulisic deserve more opportunities under Tuchel? Have your say in the comments.

Pulisic has started just 11 of 26 games since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in the Stamford Bridge hot seat in January.

But he started the Blues’ most-recent game – the 1-0 home defeat by Arsenal on Wednesday – and declared his side must perform much better in Saturday’s FA Cup final with Leicester City.

Speaking on Friday, he added: “Maybe it is something that we need – we are that much hungrier, that much more looking forward to the game tomorrow.

“We know what Leicester is all about. They are going to battle, they are a tough team. They’ve done extremely well in the league this year. We know about their attacking ability and some of the players they have.

“So we expect them to come and battle. We are going to give it everything, and hopefully if we play the way we do and we match their intensity, I think we can beat them.”

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Christian Petracca’s move into middle strikes gold for Melbourne Demons


In 1851, before the colony of Victoria was even established, they struck gold in Warrandyte.

Louis Michel found alluvial gold in the banks of Andersons Creek and started a gold rush to the locality and to Victoria. Although later eclipsed by the gold regions to the north, Warrandyte became known as a place to uncover treasure.

In 2014, Melbourne was lucky enough to also find gold in Warrandyte, albeit gold that wasn’t hidden very well. After St Kilda tabbed Paddy McCartin at pick one in the draft, the Demons pounced on Warrandyte’s own Christian Petracca.

This year Petracca has emerged, alongside Marcus Bontempelli, as one of the most impactful players in the game. Encapsulating Petracca’s rise was the midweek announcement of a top-dollar, seven-year contract extension, tying him to the Dees until 2029.

So what makes Petracca so valuable, and is the long deal a good one for the Demons?

Man of the universe

The first thing most footy fans notice about Christian Petracca is his legs.

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They’re the basis of his ability to combine speed and strength, the key attributes of players at the top of the game. While Dustin Martin has tremendous upper body strength, and Patrick Dangerfield has blink-and-you-miss-it speed, Petracca combines the two into a neat package.

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While Martin’s hips help him pivot out of tackles, Petracca’s leg strength could propel him out of set concrete, driving through tackles and out of trouble.

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In Petracca’s very first pre-season, Petracca suffered one of the worst fates imaginable for a young footballer — a torn ACL. The enforced layoff forced the young Demon to work on developing his leg strength and movement patterns to both avoid future injury and improve his game.

To ease Petracca back from injury, Melbourne played the youngster mostly up forward, with pinch-hitting contributions up the ground. It led to the reputation that he was a “burst” player, a game changer that lacked endurance.

Melbourne’s relative strength in the middle allowed them to pursue such a cautious strategy, with Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney, Angus Brayshaw, James Harmes and Nathan Jones fighting for time in the middle. As the most versatile of these players, Petracca was often relied on to fill holes elsewhere and solve the numbers game in the middle.

But it’s Petracca’s transition from a forward who occasionally hit the middle to a midfielder who moonlighted as a key forward that has been the basis of his rise.

This year, everything has clicked for Petracca, with him developing into the most dangerous attacking player in the game.

So far this year, Petracca is leading the league in inside 50s and he is third in score involvements. His past as a high-level junior point guard in basketball allows him to direct the play and to read the options going forward.

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Petracca has a bigger frame than most midfielders, able to bully his way to the ball when required. Beyond that, the young Demon has a knack for finding space where there is none and jetting away from danger.

When the ball is in the air, Petracca is able to read the ball better than most and react. His strong ability to leap from a standing start gives him an advantage over most similarly sized defenders, and his speed and ability to read play mean he can get away from most taller options.

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It means he tends to remain deadly while resting forward. This has also led Melbourne to play Petracca more total game time than most midfielders, allowing the Demons to manage other midfield rotations better.

Petracca’s weakness so far this year has been the number of turnovers he has committed. This comes with the role, as generally the more a player wins the ball and is trusted to attack, the more turnovers they also generate.

As Petracca developed, the Demons came to the realisation they couldn’t afford to keep him away from the middle. This year, the shift has paid off in spades.

A long time

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While longer-term deals existed, such as the five-year deal that Haydn Bunton signed in 1937 to join Subiaco from Fitzroy, they often served to lure players away from the VFL and into other leagues.

As football professionalised into the 1980s and 90s, big-contract offers to move players became more commonplace.

Alastair Lynch’s 10-year contract with the then-Brisbane Bears for a princely sum of $1.8 million is a great example of how they can work to a club’s advantage.

When Lynch signed the deal, he was instantly made one of the 50 highest-paid players in the game. By the end of the deal, the Lion was closer to the mid-pack in league salaries as total player payments rose significantly, especially for the best players.

More recently, there has been a rash of contracts of five years or more signed.

Most of these deals have seen players perform at roughly the level they did before signing their deals. In a select few cases, clubs have been able to renegotiate the contract or the player has retired.

For clubs, it’s a strategy that has generally worked out.

At the same time, the past three decades have seen a dramatic increase in league-wide salaries. Until now, locking in players’ salaries in current dollars has proven to be extremely valuable for clubs. If the cap rises over the next eight years, it may be a shrewd deal.

Due to their recent spate of contract extensions, the Demons have locked in their core going forward.

Signing Petracca was the final step in this process, and a Petracca-like player doesn’t walk through the door every day.

The Demons are relatively fit and firing. The Demons’ first 65 seasons saw 12 flags won. The next 56 saw none.

The season is long, but the signs seem good up until now.

The Dees can dream that the drought may break soon, as long as Petracca and co can keep it up.

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Sadie Robertson Gives Birth, Welcomes First Baby With Christian Huff – E! Online


Sadie Robertson is a mom!

The 23-year-old Duck Dynasty star gave birth to her and husband Christian Huff‘s first child, a baby girl named Honey James Huff on Tuesday, May 11. On Instagram, she shared a carousel of photos of their baby girl, writing, “we saw a million little miracles yesterday – the best one being this girl right here… Honey. the pure goodness of God. story to come, but I’m way too occupied right now by cuteness. 5.11.21.”

Sadie and Christian, 22, have been married since November 2019. They announced on social media last October that she was pregnant with their first child. Weeks later, she revealed on Instagram that she recently spent time in the hospital after becoming “very sick” with the coronavirus.

“I know everyone experiences covid differently, but wow these symptoms are wild,” she wrote. “I’ve definitely struggled through this one! Thankfully baby Huff is doing great and healthy, and I am now healing as well. I’m no longer in the hospital (this pic was not from today) and i have just about fully recovered.”

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Former Christian Brother sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of two boys at St Augustine’s


A former Christian Brother who sexually abused boys at a Geelong orphanage in the 1960s will spend more time in jail after being sentenced for “depraved” crimes against two other children.

A judge last month found William Houston guilty of buggery and three counts of indecent assault for abusing two boys in their beds when he was a dormitory supervisor at St Augustine’s in Highton.

Houston, 82, is already in prison after being sentenced five years ago for abusing six boys at the orphanage in the 60s.

Victorian County Court judge Gerard Mullaly today sentenced Houston to a further seven years in prison for abusing the two other boys, who were wards of the state.

“In your role at St Augustine’s, you knew how vulnerable each of these young boys were,” he said.

“To sexually abuse such young and vulnerable children, in particular by the anal penetration of an 11-year-old child, only has to be said for the gravity and utter depravity of what you did to be exposed.”

Judge Mullaly said the first victim assumed Houston was tickling boys in their beds, but when he eventually came to the 11-year-old he fondled his penis under his pyjamas.

“It was plainly a predatory criminal act of sexual abuse of a child,” the judge said.

The boy was feeling sick and crying one night when he was taken to Houston’s bed and sexually assaulted, in an attack that left him frightened and withdrawn.

Houston indecently assaulted the second victim by lying on the 12-year-old’s bed and rubbing his penis against his thigh.

Judge Mullaly said Houston knew what he was doing was wrong because he told the boy “we should not be doing this” in the midst of the abuse.

He said Houston’s crimes were a comprehensive breach of trust and an example of “utter hypocrisy” in his position as a Christian Brother.

“(You had) an outward appearance to adherence to decent morals, while acting in private as a man with no, or only base, morals,” the judge said.

The court heard the first victim endured a lifetime of suffering as a result of the abuse and still felt angry and anxious.

“As a child, I was taken from a safe place with my family and put in an unsafe place,” the man said in an earlier statement to the court.

“This trauma cost me my childhood. This trauma cost me my first marriage and my health.”

The abuse left the second victim feeling frightened, abandoned, and ashamed.

He had trouble sleeping for fear Houston would return, and lost trust in men, making it hard to keep jobs and maintain friendships.

He tried to take his own life in the 1990s.

“Looking back over my life I feel robbed of my innocence and my ability to lead a normal, healthy, and happy life,” he told the court.

Houston must now serve a minimum of 10 years and nine months in jail, which means the earliest he can be released is January 2027.

He will be on the sex offenders register for life.

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Christian Porter seeks to strike out sections of ABC’s defence in defamation case



The former attorney-general launched defamation action against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan for publishing what he says are “false accusations” he was the subject of historical rape allegations.

Former attorney-general Christian Porter is seeking to strike out parts of the ABC’s defence in defamation proceedings concerning historical rape allegations.

The public broadcaster’s defence contains material that is “evasive or ambiguous” and/or scandalous, according to an application filed on behalf of Mr Porter.

The ABC filed its defence on Tuesday evening but it is yet to be released by the Federal Court.

Mr Porter in March launched defamation action against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan for publishing what he says are “false accusations” he was the subject of historical rape allegations.

The woman at the centre of the allegations died in June 2020.

Since the report’s 26 February publication, the West Australian MP has changed roles from attorney-general to industry, science and technology minister.

 

Mr Porter’s application, filed Wednesday and published Thursday afternoon, seeks to strike out one paragraph of the defence and three schedules.

It also seeks an order preventing publication of the three schedules until further order of the court.

The material in the schedules is of a scandalous, frivolous or vexatious nature, is evasive or ambiguous, or are otherwise an abuse of the process of the court, Mr Porter’s application claims, referencing phrases in Federal Court Rules.

The court is also asked to order the ABC to provide more information on certain denials outlined in the defence.

The parties are due to face off virtually in court for the first time on Friday morning, before Justice Jayne Jagot.

While the report referred to an unnamed cabinet minister, Google searches for ‘Christian Porter’ after the article’s publication spiked to a greater extent than any other male frontbencher, his lawyers state in court documents. 

By 3 March, a Google search of “who is the minister accused of rape” would return Mr Porter’s name, and Mr Porter was widely identified on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, the lawyers say.

Mr Porter revealed himself as the subject of the allegations on 3 March.

Milligan is also accused of directing her Twitter followers before 3 March to the #cabinetminister hashtag, through which Mr Porter was identified by members of the public.

Mr Porter is seeking aggravated damages, costs and removal of the article and related material on the internet.

In another document published on Thursday, the ABC said the allegedly defamatory article received 264,658 unique page views before Mr Porter revealed himself as its subject.

More than half came from NSW and Victoria, while 26,710 were in the MP’s home state.

The article was accessed another 22,575 times nationwide between the beginning of Mr Porter’s 3 March press conference and 25 April. 

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Baz Luhrmann reveals Heath Ledger almost won role of Christian


It’s been almost 20 years since Moulin Rouge first premiered.

The cult romantic musical film, written and directed by Australian movie-making legend Baz Luhrmann, was an unlikely commercial and critical triumph of the era.

It ended a decade-long drought of musical films not being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2002, and secured seven other nominations (it won two).

One of those honours was a Best Actress nod for a then 33-year-old Nicole Kidman, who played Moulin Rouge muse Satine.

And as much as we savoured the colour, lights and costumes, audiences were perhaps most enchanted by Christian (Ewan McGregor) and Satine’s against-all-odds love story.

Luhrmann knew before their first auditions – or “workshops” as he prefers to call them – that the pair would be a dream match in the movie, which streams on Disney+.

RELATED: Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban seen singing at Moulin Rouge! musical

But before it got to that point, the Romeo+ Juliet director was almost sold on late Australian actor, Heath Ledger, who was 21 at the time.

“There’s some stories to tell here … A young Heath Ledger was up for the role and I thought maybe the character could be very young,” Luhrmann told news.com.au.

“And it turned out they (Ledger and Kidman) did really work together. And it was quite beautiful.

“But Heath was just too young in the end.”

RELATED: Ronan Keating says he missed out on Moulin Rouge role

When that didn’t work out, Luhrmann knew he needed to get McGregor, who was 30 at the time, and Kidman on-board as his two leads.

At the time, the pair were performing in stage shows in London and New York, respectively.

“I went and saw Ewan and worked with him vocally, and I went and saw Nicole and I worked with her vocally, and I put them together in my head,” Luhrmann said.

“The real moment was when they met in Sydney and we did the first day of rehearsals. I’ve got a video of them doing scenes in Iona (a Darlinghurst site Luhrmann was leasing at the time).

“They were walking around, going into the elephant, and they were hysterical and wonderfully matched. They were great. He (McGregor) was just the perfect partner for Nicole.

“Getting the right chemical equation between two leads in a romantic relationship is really important. You can’t fix that if you get it wrong.”

RELATED: Moulin Rouge stars spill secrets from the film

Luhrmann, who is currently helping with Moulin Rouge! The Musicalahead of its Melbourne debut in August, said he also witnessed the aforementioned hypnotic chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, who starred in his 2013 Oscar-winning film The Great Gatsby.

“It’s one of the first things you see straight away. It happened with Carey and Leonardo,” he said.

RELATED: Baz Luhrmann says The Great Gatsby is an Australian film

“I put everyone through their paces, I don’t make exceptions for anyone. It’s not that I want to test them but I want to test myself. I’m learning about the character by working with them.

“But Leo and I had seen a lot of people and worked with a lot of people, but the particular quality we needed was present the moment they (DiCaprio and Mulligan) got together.

“I’ve actually got pictures from the moment they’re together and it’s the same throughout the film.”

Read our full interview with Baz Luhrmann on Sunday

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Christian Petracca contract signed, re-signs with Melbourne Demons until 2029; Toby Greene re-signs with GWS Giants until 2026


Having secured Christian Petracca until the end of the decade, Melbourne say they are confident of also re-signing out-of-contract key forward Sam Weideman.

But while Demons coach Simon Goodwin said on Wednesday that Weideman was under consideration to play his first AFL game of the season against Sydney at the MCG on Saturday night, it will not yet be at the expense of Tom McDonald, who will return to the forward line despite a season-ending knee injury to Adam Tomlinson.

Christian Petracca has signed a new deal.Credit:Getty

The Dees confirmed on Wednesday that former No.2 draft pick Petracca had decided against testing the free agency market next year, extending his current contract – due to run out at the end of 2022 – until the end of 2029 on a contract estimated to be in the vicinity of $900,000 to $1 million per season.

Petracca, 25, took his game to a new level last year, winning the club’s best-and-fairest award and has maintained his outstanding form this year as part of the Dees’ 7-0 start to the season. He is among the Brownlow Medal favourites for 2021.

Petracca’s deal has parallels with that of Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy and Richmond superstar Dustin Martin, both of whom signed seven-year extensions in recent years, but is perhaps more significant as it has come in the less certain post COVID-19 financial landscape.

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Collingwood had been strongly linked to a play for Petracca, who had previously indicated to at least one confidante that he would consider a move to the Pies.

But Goodwin said he was comfortable with the long-term nature of the deal and had never doubted whether the midfielder would commit to the club.

“I think that shows you the confidence we’ve got in Christian. He’s getting better and better all the time,” Goodwin said

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Melbourne star Christian Petracca signs monster contract extension


Melbourne star Christian Petracca has reportedly agreed to terms on a monster new contract.

Channel Seven and Fox Footy are reporting that Petracca has signed a seven-year deal at just under $1 million a season, tying him to the club until the end of 2029.

The 25-year-old was due to come out of contract at the end of 2022.

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Melbourne is expected to announce Petracca’s long-term contract extension on Wednesday.

Petracca, who finished equal-third in last year’s Brownlow Medal, is averaging 29 disposals, 7.3 inside 50s, six clearances and a goal a game this season.

The undefeated Demons are sitting pretty at the top of the ladder ahead of Saturday night’s clash against Sydney.





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