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Irish journalists win court case to protect source

By Bob Ewing     Jul 31, 2009 in Business
The Irish Times newspaper has won a legal battle to protect the identity of a key source who provided corruption case documents.
The documents apparently showed former Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was under investigation for corruption. reported Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy referred to the Supreme Court appeal verdict as "a very good judgment for investigative journalism."
"For the first time the right of journalists to protect their sources is enshrined in Irish law," said Kennedy.
Kennedy, along with reporter Colm Keena, had faced potential imprisonment if they refused to reveal the source.
Both would not comply with an October 2007 High Court judgment ordering them to identify their source for the confidential documents from a fact-finding tribunal into political corruption.
The documents were used by the Times to report in September 2006 that then-prime minister was under investigation for surreptitiously receiving euro50,000 to euro100,000 ($70,000 to $140,000) from businessmen in the early 1990s. He was finance minister at the time.
At first, Ahern said the money involved unpaid "loans" from close friends, however, the story kept changing as new secret payments involving other businessmen, groups and events were revealed.
Keena said he was delighted "that the justices recognized the importance of the story and recognized that we were acting in the public interest."
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