A report into Lawyer X has recommended the state’s top prosecutor decide if Nicola Gobbo and top police should face charges the scandal.
A report into Lawyer X has recommended the state’s top prosecutor decide if Nicola Gobbo and top police should face charges the scandal.

Prosecutor to decide if Lawyer X and cops should be charged

The head of the Lawyer X inquiry says it is up to the state's top prosecutor to decide if Nicola Gobbo or any police officers have committed a criminal offence.

But rejected arguments by key players in the legal saga, including former police chief Simon Overland, who argued she did not have the power to find they have breached the Victoria Police Act, calling this a suggestion a "mockery" of the Royal Commission.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo AO said she will not be making any findings in her final report, due later this year, that any named individuals may have acted criminally or breached the Victoria Police Act.

The long-awaited 2000 page report examines the use of underworld barrister-turned-police informer Nicola Gobbo during the height of Melbourne's tit-for-tat gangland murders.

 

Drug baron Tony Mokbel leaves court with Gobbo when she was acting as his lawyer.
Drug baron Tony Mokbel leaves court with Gobbo when she was acting as his lawyer.

Commissioner McMurdo said on Tuesday evening that while it was within her judicial power to deliver such findings, releasing that information to the public may prejudice any fair trial if charges are laid.

"Public discussion of whether named individuals may have committed specific criminal offences in submissions or in my final report could unfairly prejudice any future trials and could put at risk the presumption of innocence and Charter rights to a fair trial," she said.

The long-awaited report has just been released after it was dramatically halted at the 11th hour after Victoria Police demanded several redactions.

In his submissions, counsel assisting the commission Chris Winneke QC is expected to denounce the force's "noble cause corruption'', hidden from the courts over a decade of cases.

A series of adverse findings are expected to be made against Ms Gobbo and senior police, including possible criminal conduct and professional misconduct by police officers.

The head of the Lawyer X inquiry says it is up to the state's top prosecutor to decide if Nicola Gobbo or any police officers have committed a criminal offence.

But rejected arguments by key players in the legal saga, including former police chief Simon Overland, who argued she did not have the power to find they may have breached the Victoria Police Act, calling this a suggestion a "mockery" of the Royal Commission.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo AO said she will not be making any findings in her final report, due later this year, that any named individuals may have acted criminally or breached the Victoria Police Act.

Commissioner McMurdo said on Tuesday evening that while it was within her judicial power to deliver such findings, releasing that information to the public may prejudice any fair trial if charges are laid.

"Public discussion of whether named individuals may have committed specific criminal offences in submissions or in my final report could unfairly prejudice any future trials and could put at risk the presumption of innocence and Charter rights to a fair trial," she said.

The key report comes after 127 days of public hearings before a Royal Commission into one of Victoria's biggest ever legal scandals.

 

Nicola Gobbo with underworld hit man Andrew `Benji’ Veniamin and gangland boss Carl Williams. Picture: Supplied
Nicola Gobbo with underworld hit man Andrew `Benji’ Veniamin and gangland boss Carl Williams. Picture: Supplied

 

The Royal Commission, called by Premier Daniel Andrews in December 2018, examined Victoria Police's recruitment, handling and management of their most prolific informer.

Sparked by a four-year investigation by the Herald Sun, the explosive inquiry discovered almost 1300 people may have had their legal cases tainted by the woman dubbed Lawyer X.

More than 80 people, including high-ranking members of Victoria Police, career criminals and Gobbo herself gave sworn testimony from the witness box over the course of the year-long hearings.

 

Harper Collins book LAWYER X by News Corp journalists Anthony Dowsley and Patrick Carlyon
Harper Collins book LAWYER X by News Corp journalists Anthony Dowsley and Patrick Carlyon

 

It followed a High Court ruling in 2018 which found the actions of Victoria Police as "reprehensible'' and "atrocious''.

 

MORE NEWS

THE LAWYER X SAGA EXPLAINED

THE HODSON BETRAYAL

WHY MOKBEL'S FREEDOM IS A STEP CLOSER

 

LAWYER X: INSIDE AUSTRALIA'S BIGGEST GANGLAND SCANDAL

* Explosive new revelations and exclusive extracts from gripping new book Lawyer X, by Anthony Dowsley and Patrick Carlyon, only in the Herald Sun and heraldsun.com.au this weekend

* Lawyer X, the story of how one woman played off police and criminals, is published by HarperCollins Australia on September 7. Pre-order your copy now at Booktopia

* Live online Q&A with Dowsley and Carlyon, hosted by Sky News' Peter Stefanovic, on their battle to expose the truth. Send questions to ask.lawyerx@news.com.au and watch at facebook.com/heraldsun or facebook.com/TrueCrimeAustralia at 6.30pm AEST, September 9

* Watch Peter Stefanovic's compelling two-part documentary Lawyer X: The Untold Story on Sky News at 8pm AEST, September 12 and 19

 

Originally published as Prosecutor to decide if Lawyer X, top cops should be charged


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