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Helen Liu already knows name of source, court told

The Age

Friday February 18, 2011


CHINESE-AUSTRALIAN businesswoman Helen Liu does not need to compel three Age journalists to reveal their sources for a story detailing her relationship with the former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon because she already knows the identity of at least one source, a court has heard.In his final submissions to the New South Wales Supreme Court yesterday, Tom Blackburn, SC, for The Age, said Ms Liu knows or believes a person called David Liu is one of the sources who provided the documents purported to be her "private papers".At no stage have lawyers for The Age accepted the contention that Mr Liu was a source for its reports.Mr Blackburn urged the judge to make "no order" against the journalists so they could uphold their confidentiality undertakings.Earlier, Bruce McClintock, SC, for Ms Liu, asked Justice Lucy McCallum to withdraw from evidence five paragraphs from journalist Richard Baker's affidavit, which contained claims about payments to Mr Fitzgibbon and his alleged affair with Ms Liu's sister Queena.However, Justice McCallum said the paragraphs were admissible, but only as far as establishing the integrity of the investigation and whether the journalists acted with "a due sense of responsibility" when researching and writing the articles. The evidence "was not to be used for the purpose of establishing the truth of its contents", she said.She refused Ms Liu's application to strike out the paragraphs or suppress her sister's name and that of her long-time legal adviser, Donald Junn.Justice McCallum said the "overriding premise" is that "whatever is said in court can be reported", so long as it is fair, accurate and not contemptuous.Mr Blackburn accused Ms Liu of trying to hide from the court her knowledge of Mr Liu, which he said was evidenced in emails sent by her legal team to at least two contacts that sought to track down Mr Liu's whereabouts.Further, Mr McClintock's affidavit revealed he had spoken to Mr Junn and also formed the view that Mr Liu was a likely source, Mr Blackburn said.Mr Junn had been central to Ms Liu's application and his whereabouts were a matter of conjecture. However, yesterday Mr Blackburn told the court: "Donald Junn is in Sydney today [at] the Court of Appeal. And he was last week too. And we only knew this today."Mr McClintock said the documents relied on by the journalists, including a list of "money paid" for unstated purposes to 22 people, were fabricated.He said Ms Liu had been "done a very grievous wrong" by the newspaper when it alleged she had engaged in "serious misconduct and criminal offences"."It is critical to the vindication of her rights and reputation that she have the opportunity to expose that forgery and the only way she can do that is to take proceedings against the people who provided the documents," Mr McClintock said.Justice McCallum reserved her decision.

© 2011 The Age

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