The High Court has declared the warrant used by the Australian Federal Police to search the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst last year invalid.
The court today rejected the search warrant on technical grounds.
It unanimously ruled the warrant used at Smethurst’s home was invalid because it “misstated the substance” of relevant criminal laws. The court also declared the warrant was not specific enough regarding the alleged offences by Smethurst.
The Australian Federal Police raided Smethurst’s home in June last year over a top-secret government proposal, with the AFP alleging there had been an unauthorised leak of “national security information” in a story she wrote in April 2018.
In a statement at the time, the police said the warrant related to “the alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret, which is an extremely serious matter that has the potential to undermine Australia’s national security”.
Prime minister Scott Morrison defended the operation and said the raid was a matter for the AFP.
The same week the AFP searched the ABC’s Sydney headquarters over a different story. It sparked a national conversation about press freedom.
While the High Court found the warrant used by the AFP was invalid because it misstated the relevant law, it did not consider if the raid impacted freedom of political communication.
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