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Victorian barristers slam Dan Andrews’ Lawyer X comments as ‘misguided, wrong’

Premier Daniel Andrews’ comments after the closure of the Lawyer X investigative office have been denounced as “misguided, wrong and inappropriate” by 38 of Victoria’s most eminent barristers.

user iconNaomi Neilson 19 July 2023 Big Law
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Following a public dispute between former High Court judge Geoffrey Nettle and Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd over the handling of the Lawyer X investigation, Mr Andrews told The Age Mr Nettle was “altogether too close” to decide on criminal convictions.

Mr Andrews added investigators “don’t make good prosecutors”.

The practitioners – including the Honourable Neil Brown KC, former chairman of the Criminal Bar Robert Richter KC and former chief magistrate Nicholas Papas KC – said the comments lacked objectivity and a capacity “to form a reasoned and unbiased opinion”.


“These statements reflect little understanding of the separation of powers, and the need for the executive not to comment on or involve itself in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences.

“They also reflect a lack of understanding of the extremely high level of skills and professional objectivity that a former judge of the High Court and the Court of Appeal is trained, and more than well qualified, to bring to bear on all professional tasks,” the letter read.

The clash between Victoria’s legal professionals and its government began after Mr Nettle published a letter in which he threatened to resign if the Office of the Special Investigators was not wound up.

In the letter, Mr Nettle said Ms Judd was not willing to accept briefs of evidence to prosecute senior police members.

He suggested that if the government kept the office open, it should replace him to “make way for someone whose views as to the weight of evidence required to warrant a prosecution for relevant offences more closely accorded to the director’s position”.

In response, Ms Judd said she knocked back three of the office’s briefs “on the basis there were not reasonable prospects” of success.

The barristers said they would not comment on this dispute between Mr Nettle and Ms Judd, but they said the statements made by Mr Andrews should “never have been made in respect of such a distinguished and well-respected jurist as Mr Nettle”.

“They ought to be retracted and a public apology issued,” the letter read.

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