Bernard Collaery Witness K trial
Bernard Collaery. (Image: AAP/Rod Mcguirk)

While Attorney-General Christian Porter was preening in his finery ahead of the press gallery's Midwinter Ball last night, lawyers for the men he has launched a malicious and politically motivated prosecution at were standing up in a crowded Canberra courtroom to begin their defence.

The first hearings for the trial of Witness K and Bernard Collaery for revealing ASIS' illegal conduct in bugging the Timor-Leste cabinet, began late yesterday afternoon, ostensibly at the unusual time of 4.15, but it was some while later when the associate for Chief Magistrate and former RAAF officer Lorraine Walker emerged to call "Bernard Collaery". Collaery wasn't there, nor, presumably, was Witness K, whose identity must remain secret, but dozens of others were: supporters, journalists, barristers, solicitors, far more than the few seats of the tiny courtroom would allow. People sat on the floor, squeezed up against each other and strained to hear barristers for the prosecution and defence introduce themselves.