Back in August 2009, Australian police arrested four people in terror raids – a planned operation reported exclusively by the Australian newspaper. But the police claimed copies of the newspaper were available in Melbourne before the operation had taken place, citing that an “unacceptable risk”. We noted on this blog:
Australian police have attacked the way the Australian newspaper reported its planned terror raids, claiming that the newspaper’s exclusive was available before the operation had actually taken place early this morning.
It was a stunning scoop, which won journalist Cameron Stewart a prestigious press prize. But the legal implications continue. In brief, the Australian newspaper (part of Murdoch’s News Limited) has acquired an order prohibiting publication of a report into the source of the leak by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI). Crikey.com.au reports that the report is “apparently highly critical of Stewart and the newspaper” and identifies a possible source.
This organisation, as the excellent Crikey explains, “is responsible for countering corruption in the Australian Federal Police and the Victorian Office of Police Integrity”. The Victorian Office of Police Integrity now seeks to overturn the order.
Today [Thursday] Crikey.com.au’s Margaret Simons has been tweeting live from the Australian Federal Court using the hashtag #ozleak: “OPI is seeking a court order to issue an edited report giving details of Oz articles, opi investigation. oz opposes”.
Before reading the tweets, look at her comprehensive back story here: The murky legal battle behind The Oz’s terror raids scoop. An extract:
The aftermath of [Cameron’s] story, which won a Gold Quill in the recent Melbourne Press Club awards, is shaping to be one of the most sensitive and controversial episodes in recent journalistic history, as well as a case study in relationships between journalists and their sources and the rivalries between police forces.
Good background can also be found in the MediaWatch report: ‘The Australian v Victoria Police’.