Smethurst, who will join The Age as state political editor next year, successfully won a High Court challenge against the search warrant, with the court finding the actions were unlawful on technical grounds.

The ruling also required the AFP to pay News Corp and Smethurst’s legal costs, a figure which is estimated to be similar to the external costs disclosed in responses to the Senate. It was unclear whether the total amount disclosed in the responses includes these payments.

Senator Patrick said the court case was a waste of taxpayer money. “The investigation should never have started. The raid should have never occurred. The matter should never have been before the courts,” he said.

“Public resources and more than half a million dollars on of taxpayers money has been wasted in what was clearly just an attempt by the government to intimidate journalists and stifle media reporting.

“The only officials who might think this is money well spent are those that are fundamentally opposed to freedom of the press and media oversight of government.”

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