The Age journos beat magistrate's forced evidence ruling

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By Steven Raeburn, N/A

April 18, 2013 | 3 min read

Fairfax Media has won its appeal against a magistrate’s decision which would have forced two journalists from The Age to give evidence in the Securency bribery case.

State laws protecting journalists did not apply to the case

The ruling against Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie from magistrate Phillip Goldberg, which would have compelled them to reveal their confidential sources, has now been set aside.

Justice Harper said Mr Goldberg had gone beyond the power of his jurisdiction to issue the summons.

"We are seeing increasing legal attacks on reporters for doing their job,’’, The Age editor-in-chief Andrew Holden said.

"It is nice to finally have a win, and for Nick and Richard and their families to be able to relax about this threat, but it doesn’t change the fact that they and other Age reporters are before the courts with further demands for confidential information, and the names of their sources.

‘‘We will continue to protect our journalists as they try to keep our community informed."

Justice Harper said: ‘‘Investigative journalists have a legitimate interest in uncovering the truth about a story such as this; and they serve an important public interest in having that truth revealed.”

‘‘One mechanism, appropriate in some but not all circumstances, by which journalists elicit the truth is to promise anonymity to those from whom they source their information. This too serves the public interest, an interest advanced not only by the code of ethics of The Age but also by that of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (of which the applicants are members).’’

New state laws to protect journalists from revealing their sources came into effect in Victoria last month, but did not apply to the Securency case, which had already commenced.

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