News National High Court’s ruling on AFP raid strands reporter in legal limbo

High Court’s ruling on AFP raid strands reporter in legal limbo

journalist raid national security
News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst is no wiser about the fate of her seized documents. Photo: AAP/Twitter Photo: AAP/Twitter
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The case went all the way to the High Court, but News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst still doesn’t know her legal standing in regard to a police search of her home.

Her Canberra apartment was raided by Australian Federal Police in 2019 over stories she wrote revealing secret plans to expand the government’s spying powers.

The full bench of the High Court last Wednesday found the search warrant wasn’t drafted precisely enough and should be quashed.

But the judges were torn on whether the AFP had to destroy material seized during the search.

“In many ways, it’s not a huge win, because they can still use that for an investigation, or even a potential prosecution,” she said on ABC television’s Insider program on Sunday.

“So until both the AFP and effectively the government, since they’ve said that (attorney-general) Christian Porter would have to sign off, until we get an assurance that there won’t be any charges relating to this case, it’s status quo.”

Two justices argued the police should have to destroy the data and therefore not use it.

But the majority disagreed, saying the data could disclose criminal conduct and no specific right would be protected by doing so.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said last week the force would get legal advice on what to do with the data.

“At this moment it’s quarantined, investigators are not able to look at that,” he said.

News Corp has called for the government to walk away from the case, saying Australians should be concerned that a journalist’s home could be illegally raided.