FAIRFAX Media will fight to overturn subpoenas issued against two investigative journalists, opposing a move by defence lawyers to force the exposure of confidential sources in the banknote bribery scandal.
The Age's Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie were subpoenaed on Thursday to take the witness stand in the committal of former banknote executives accused of bribery.
Defence lawyers are seeking to identify the source of a report that an alleged bagman from Indonesia will testify against the accused.
The move comes after laws to protect journalists from revealing their sources were passed by the Victorian government in September but before they take effect next month.
Editor-in-chief of The Age Andrew Holden vowed to pursue all avenues to overturn the subpoenas and said sources would not be revealed under any circumstances.
''One of our basic ethics is the protection of our sources. We always prefer to be open about where our information comes from but there are circumstances where it is important for the sake of reporting the news that we can protect those who provide us with information. This was one of those cases,'' Holden said.
Magistrate Phillip Goldberg said defence lawyers had argued that the bribery case against former Reserve Bank company executives should be dismissed ''because of the misbehaviour of investigating officials including the misbehaviour of providing information to the media and what really is sought - as I understand it - is material that might go to the issue''.
He told the court: ''There is no law which protects … or creates a rule that recognises journalists' privilege.''
Barrister Matthew Collins, SC, representing The Age , told the Melbourne Magistrates Court he would apply for judicial review after Mr Goldberg issued subpoenas for both journalists.
Dr Collins argued that the subpoenas were unnecessary and that journalists' code of ethics required source confidentiality to be maintained.