Lawyer X royal commission comes to an end

By Naomi Neilson|20 February 2020

The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants’ public hearings are now over, concluding with explosive news that 1,297 people stand to have their cases re-examined as a result of barrister Nicola Gobbo’s informing.

On the 127th day of hearings and over one year since its first open hearing, the inquiry finally comes to an end with closing remarks from commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

“Commission lawyers and staff have been working hard outside the hearings to investigate potential past individual or institutional shortcomings, including the laborious task of identifying tasks that may have been affected by Ms Gobbo’s conduct. They’ve also been investigating matters relevant to the future focused terms of reference, so that any past shortcomings are not repeated,” she said.

The commission has drawn on the experiences and insights of these stakeholders to gain an understanding of the current practices in Victoria, along with alternative model in other jurisdictions. I sincerely thank those agencies and individuals for their contribution and cooperation, which [have] been enormously helpful.”

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You can read the closing remarks in their entirety here

There were a total of 81 witnesses examined by the commission, including Ms Gobbo. An additional 120 people provided the commission with written statements.

The commission received over 140 submissions from members of the public and has conducted over 80 consultations with key international and interstate stakeholders with expertise in policy and practices relevant to the terms of reference. It has issued 374 notices to produce, resulting in the production of over 145,000 documents to date.

“However, there is much more information yet to be produced and several requests for documentation from Victoria Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions,” a statement from the royal commission noted. The commission is expecting these in March.

There are 1,297 people whose cases are currently being investigated to determine the state of their prosecutions and whether they were affected by Ms Gobbo’s informing.

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State prosecutors have notified 31 people that their cases may have been tainted and Commonwealth prosecutors have notified nine people.

The inquiry noted that additional information is needed about the 1,297 people before determining the extent to which their cases were affected by her informing.

Before the commission wrapped up, Lawyers Weekly took a look back at the witnesses and the allegations that formed this inquiry, including the history of the informing.

There will be a handful of public and open hearings in April around policies and practice of Victoria Police to strengthen its approach to the management of human sources, in relation to the legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.

In the meantime, the commission will consider any further critical matters that come to its attention and determine whether other hearings may be required.

Ms McMurdo is expected to hand down her final report on 1 July 2020.

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Lawyer X royal commission comes to an end
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