Roughan had refused to surrender transcripts and recordings used for his biography John Key – Portrait of a Prime Minister.
He was asked for the documents a year ago under the discovery process for a defamation case being taken against Mr Key by freelance photographer Bradley Ambrose.
The Privacy Commission told the columnist last week that his book did not meet the criteria for the Privacy Act exemption which allowed journalists to protect their sources.
Roughan is the third journalist to be captured by a High Court ruling last year which said a reporter’s research for a book did not qualify for protection under privacy rules.
He said yesterday it was a very difficult decision to give up the documents.
He would have broken the law for an informant who needed protecting, he said.
‘I don’t think it’s worth going to the bitter end on it. If it was someone who really needed my protection – then I would’.
‘Obviously the Prime Minister doesn’t’.