Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

DPP and Lawyer X special investigator clash over Nicola Gobbo

Amid speculations Nicola Gobbo may have been prepared to enter a plea, Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) responded to a searing letter from a former High Court justice tasked with investigating the key figures behind the infamous Lawyer X scandal.

user iconNaomi Neilson 23 June 2023 Big Law
expand image

In a scathing letter in which he threatened to resign if the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) was not wound up, former High Court justice Geoffrey Nettle claimed the DPP, Kerri Judd, was not willing to accept briefs of evidence to prosecute senior police members for offences that included perverting the course of justice.

In a statement tabled in the State Parliament on Thursday (22 June), Ms Judd hit back at those claims and explained she knocked back three of the office’s briefs “on the basis there were not reasonable prospects of conviction” for any of the alleged individuals.

“On various occasions, I put the special investigator on notice about the need for me to be satisfied that a prosecution was in the public interest. This was consistent with the director’s policy,” Ms Judd said.


One of the briefs in dispute included an individual the OSI had claimed would be willing to give evidence against police members.

According to media reports, this individual was believed to be former criminal barrister turned human source Nicola Gobbo.

In a March 2023 letter to the DPP’s office, Mr Nettle said Ms Gobbo would be prepared to enter a guilty plea to attempt to pervert the course of justice and to give evidence in the prosecution trials against five police officers. Four were junior members at the time.

According to Ms Judd’s statement, the OSI said Ms Gobbo was told she would have input into the agreed statement of facts in her own sentencing proceedings and the prosecution would be prepared to advocate for a community corrections order on her behalf.

Ms Judd disputed this in her statement, writing that Ms Gobbo was instead seeking indemnity from the prosecution or an undertaking that her evidence would not be used against her, “as opposed to giving evidence for the prosecution for the purpose of obtaining a sentencing benefit in the prosecution against them”.

“Given the discrepancy in the material provided to me, I had no confidence that the individual would, in fact, agree to plead guilty to give evidence as contemplated by the OSI,” Ms Judd said.

The DPP added she had ultimately decided the charge sheet should not be filed on the basis that there were no reasonable prospects of conviction, especially without this witness statement.

In her statement, Ms Judd took particular aim at Mr Nettle’s description of the brief as containing “more than five thousand pages of inadmissible documentary evidence, many hours of audio recording and multiple witness statements”.

“This is, with respect, an inaccurate characterisation of the material.

“Much of this material was irrelevant to any likely facts in issue in the proposed proceeding or, if relevant, would have been inadmissible as a matter of law,” Ms Judd wrote.

Another point of contention between Ms Judd and Mr Nettle was the identification of another witness, named “Fleet”, who OSI had claimed was “important, but not crucial” to securing a conviction. It was understood Fleet was not willing to make a statement.

Ms Judd disputed this characterisation.

“Fleet was, in a practical sense, the primary victim of the alleged offending. In my view, and in the view of those advising me, Fleet’s evidence would have been critical,” Ms Judd said.

In his letter, Mr Nettle said the first of the disputes with the DPP’s office concerned a brief about a senior police member. While Ms Judd’s office and the OSI were debating what other evidence was needed in the brief, the individual left the jurisdiction.

Mr Nettle said that with the individual no longer in the jurisdiction, he felt there was no point in the OSI continuing to investigate.

However, Ms Judd said this same individual was included in the second brief along with the four junior police members.

Mr Nettle took a similar position with respect to the most recent brief. Although he expected this to be completed in 2024, he explained in his letter that the OSI stopped work on it when he believed the likelihood of Ms Judd approving it was “effectively nil”.

Ms Judd took issue with this in her letter.

“At no stage did I rule out the prospect of authorising any future prosecution, and I would consider any further briefs on their merits, having regard to the director’s policy,” Ms Judd said.