Broadcaster prepared to accept consequences of dropping defence and paying damages less than two weeks before start of trial

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The ABC has dropped its public interest defence in a defamation case brought by former commando Heston Russell at the 11th hour after a federal court judge ordered the journalists to reveal their confidential sources.

At a hastily convened interlocutory hearing on Wednesday night, the ABC’s barrister, Lyndelle Barnett, said the corporation was prepared to accept the consequences of dropping its defence and paying damages because the issue of protecting sources was paramount.

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