Judge to rule on joint hearing of Rinehart actions against two journalists
The "shield law" testing legal battles of Fairfax Media journalist Adele Ferguson and The West Australian newspaper's Steve Pennells may be heard together as both refuse to expose their sources to Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting.
More than year has passed since Pennells was handed a subpoena compelling him to hand over all notes and recordings concerning Mrs Rinehart, her estranged son John Hancock and the billion-dollar trust at the heart of the mining magnate's family feud.
Ferguson, a business writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, has been served with her own subpoena from Mrs Rinehart.
At a directions hearing in the Supreme Court of Western Australia on Tuesday, Ferguson's lawyers raised the possibility of joining her "shield law" arguments with those of Pennells.
Justice Janine Pritchard and lawyers for Hancock Prospecting expressed reluctance to have the "Pennells matter" delayed further.
The matter has been adjourned to Friday morning when Justice Pritchard is expected to make a decision on whether the two shield law cases would be heard together.
Mrs Rinehart is Fairfax Media's largest shareholder.