A “totally unprecedented” number of rich Australians tried to force journalists to reveal their sources last year. The lawyer who defended most of the seven cases tells Crikey it was a disastrous 2012 legal decision that served to open the floodgates.
In 2010, The Age published a series of articles alleging then-defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon had received a number of gifts, including a $150,000 payment, from Chinese property developer Helen Liu. Lui promptly took The Age to court for defamation and also tried to get the eight journalists involved in the report to reveal their sources so she could sue them too. Justice Lucy McCallum ordered the journalists to reveal their sources. They refused and appealed — the matter is still before the courts.