Lawyer X cop to be named in ‘scandal’
A police officer's attempt to have his name suppressed when giving evidence about "Lawyer X" Nicola Gobbo has been denied by the Victorian Court of Appeal.
The officer gave evidence in the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, which is investigating Victoria Police's use of barrister Ms Gobbo as a "human source".
Ms Gobbo secretly informed on her own clients from Melbourne's criminal underworld who had hired her to defend them in court.
The discovery of her use in investigations - potentially breaching her clients' legal privilege - could quash convictions and allow criminals behind bars in Victoria to walk free.
Victoria Police lawyer Ian Freckelton QC previously told the court that the police officer had been subject to a "walk-by" of their house by underworld figures a few days after giving evidence.
The officer had attempted to have their name suppressed in the royal commission's final report and in submissions, to protect their safety and reputation, but was rejected.
This was because of concerns "every current or former police officer" appearing before a royal commission would have grounds to have their name suppressed, Mr Freckelton said.
He argued that focus of the decision was "inappropriate".
The officer took the case to the Court of Appeal - but on Wednesday justices Mark Weinberg, Stephen McLeish and David Beach agreed with the royal commission that the officer's name should not be suppressed.
In a written judgment, they said: "It is plain from her reasons that the Royal Commissioner considered the evidence about risk to (the police officer's) safety … in coming to her decision.
"It would not be surprising if there were a spate of additional officers who sought to take advantage of anonymisation pursuant to any such finding," they said.
They said it could be "destructive" for a royal commission investigating potential Victoria Police misconduct for officers to be anonymous, and the commission's findings would be "far less potent" if the "alleged wrongdoers" were anonymous.
"Moreover, the community as a whole would be disadvantaged through a lack of transparency in relation to what might prove to be one of the greatest scandals of our time in relation to the workings of the criminal justice system," they said.
Originally published as Lawyer X cop to be named in 'scandal'