Courts lift suppression orders in landmark case of ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle | Law (Australia)


South Australian courts have lifted suppression orders that would have hampered the media’s ability to report on a landmark case launched by tax whistleblower Richard Boyle.

The decision, which follows an intervention by Guardian Australia, paves the way for the media to report more freely on the first major test of Australia’s whistleblowing laws, which is likely to have significant implications for the protections available to others who report on abuse. government wrongdoing.

Boyle, an Adelaide-based tax office worker, in 2018 denounced his agency’s aggressive use of extraordinary garnishment powers to collect taxpayer and corporate debts, which have devastated small businesses and destroyed means of subsistence.

Boyle now faces 24 counts, including alleged disclosure of privileged information and unlawful use of listening devices to record conversations with other ATO employees. He faces a potentially long prison sentence if convicted.

Boyle took the unprecedented step of invoking Australia’s whistleblower protections to protect himself from prosecution.

It is the first time that the Public Interest Disclosure Act has been used in this way, and Boyle’s case is widely seen as a major test of national whistleblower laws, which already need reform.

Last month, after Guardian Australia and other media requested access to case documents, Commonwealth prosecutors sought suppression orders, which would have hampered the ability to report on the case of the alert launcher.

Prosecutors argued that such reports would have harmed Boyle’s criminal trial, if it proceeds.

Guardian Australia, represented by Stephen McDonald SC, intervened to argue that the deletions were too broad and unnecessarily breached the principles of open justice.

District Court Judge Liesl Kudelka ruled on Friday to revoke the existing suppression order and grant access to key documents supporting Boyle’s case.

She did so after Boyle indicated he opposed making the removal order.

The PID Act hearing is scheduled to start on October 4 in Adelaide.

Labor has publicly pledged to revise the PID Act, although the scope of these reforms is not yet clear.


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