Australian Reporter Raid Warrant Invalid: High Court

By AAP
April 14, 2020 Updated: April 14, 2020

The High Court has found a warrant used by federal police to raid a journalist’s home was invalid and ordered that it be quashed.

News Corp Australia reporter Annika Smethurst had her Canberra apartment raided in 2019 over stories she wrote revealing secret plans to expand the government’s spying powers.

The full bench of the High Court on April 15 unanimously found there was not enough precision in the drafting of the warrant.

However, only two judges ordered that material seized during the search be destroyed, meaning it could still be used by police.

The majority of the court did not order police to destroy the data taken during the raid, as it may disclose criminal conduct.

The court did not consider whether the Australian Federal Police raid infringed on implied freedom of political communication.

The AFP has been ordered to pay court costs.

In April 2018, Smethurst published three stories about a proposal to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on citizens without a warrant.

The matter was immediately referred to the AFP and officers eventually raided her home on June 4 last year.

Smethurst was forced to reveal her phone security code before police copied information from the device to a USB.

It is not known what data is stored on the USB.

By Daniel McCulloch