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Australian media organisation welcomes appeal win over revealing sources

The Media Alliance welcomes a Victorian Court of Appeal 19 April 2013 decision to set aside witness summons issued against Walkley-award winning Fairfax investigative journalists Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker.

The pair had been summoned to appear in a trial involving allegations of bribery and corruption at plastic banknote manufacturer Securency - allegations that arose out of their courageous award-winning reporting of the Securency scandal over many years. The summons related to a more recent story that ran in The Age in December 2012.

The Media Alliance notes that the appeal judge, in setting aside the summons that aimed to put the journalists in the witness box and order them to reveal their sources for the story, described it as "a fishing expedition in the hope that something might turn up".

The Media Alliance, while pleased at the decision, notes that several other journalists still have outstanding subpoenas issued against them by wealthy and powerful Australians who, similarly, seek to go on "fishing expeditions" for what journalists know and who their sources were. Baker and McKenzie are still subject to court action demanding they reveal their source for another story.

Journalists are bound by their ethical obligations from never revealing their confidential sources and, until proper uniform shield laws are created in every legal jurisdiction in Australia, more journalists will face the threat of fine, jail and criminal convictions from "fishing expeditions" for maintaining their professional ethics and doing their jobs.

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