Contempt law review

A SOFTENING of contempt laws could be part of a package of media-related legal reforms being examined by WA Attorney-General Jim McGinty.

Journalists and media proprietors alike will breathe a sigh of relief at their first glance at potential reforms, which might offer reporters some form of limited privilege and could make it harder to bring defamation actions against those involved in broadcasting or publishing.

There have been several cases of contempt charges being laid against journalists for refusing to reveal their sources. The most celebrated of these was Tony Barrass’ decision to withhold the name of an informant in a 1989 Sunday Times report on the sale of Laurie Connell’s family tax details, which resulted in a jail term, the first such sentence in Australian legal history.

Mr McGinty said he was looking at WA Law Reform Commission proposal that journalists may have some rights to withhold source of

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