Hans Lovejoy, Echo editor.
Hans Lovejoy, Echo editor. Contributed

Editor avoids having to front court

THE EDITOR of the Byron Shire Echo, Hans Lovejoy, has avoided being compelled to produce his journalistic notes in court.

Byron Shire Council had issued a subpoena calling for Mr Lovejoy to produce email exchanges between himself and the man accused of running an illegal backpackers hostel, Shai Major.

The emails related to an article Mr Lovejoy published on December 13, 2011, titled 'Slumlord' says he's helping locals'.

But the subpoena against Mr Lovejoy was withdrawn outside court yesterday when Mr Major signed an undertaking that the quotes attributed to him in the article were correct.

Mr Lovejoy said producing them would have "compromised" his ability to "continue in the community with trust".

"I do actually feel that it was unnecessary to drag a newspaper editor out of his normal day job to front up and assist their case," Mr Lovejoy said.

But council's governance manager Ralph James said the freedom of the press had never been at stake.

"Council doesn't see that it was an attack on journalistic freedom. Had it been that the source wasn't disclosed and we were seeking disclosure of it, that may have been different," Mr James said.



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