Feb 13, 2014

A bad year for press freedom: how Helen Liu opened the floodgates

Last year saw an unprecedented seven requests to force journalists to reveal their sources. The lawyer who defended most of those cases tells Crikey it all comes back to a disastrous 2012 ruling.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

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.

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6 thoughts on “A bad year for press freedom: how Helen Liu opened the floodgates

  1. Yclept

    Yet another attack on whistleblowers. Ah, it’s so good to be rich and in power or both!

  2. AR

    Shoot/sue one, scare the bejasus out of the rest.

  3. Mark out West

    The issue is that Aussie don’t care about journalists because Main Stream Media is all about commentary rather delivery the facts.

    Journalists have predominately pandered to the rigthwing needs of the wealthy and as such it is caught between those groups battling for position and power.

    People would care if they though journalists were ethical.

  4. Nicholas Whitlam

    What about a compromise? Journalists only need to disclose their sources when they have written something untrue or misleadingly incomplete.

  5. AR

    Any chance of full disclosure of your machinations at NRMA?

  6. Nicholas Whitlam

    Dear AR (whoever you are)

    I’m happy for full disclosure of all machinations at the NRMA during my time.

    In the case of the NRMA, false stories about me were promoted by persons as yet unidentified, the most egregious stories were determined by the courts to be false. But who told the journalists the lies? And who told the journalists the incomplete stories which were deliberately misleading. What was in it for them?

    This is why and when Journalists sources should not always be protected.

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