Former defence barrister Nicola Gobbo was revealed to be the practitioner at the centre of the Victorian Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, after years of her identity being suppressed, for fears of her safety.
Ms Gobbo, Vic Bar said, became a barrister in 1998 and ceased to practice as a barrister on 30 June 2009.
“In providing information to Victoria Police while a barrister, in breach of obligations of confidence she owed to clients, she committed fundamental and appalling breaches of her ethical obligations. Victoria Police also engaged in reprehensible conduct in knowingly encouraging her to commit those breaches”, Vic Bar said in a statement.
Victorian Bar president Dr Matthew Collins QC added: “Nicola Gobbo’s conduct was egregious. All Victorian barristers are bound by a strict code of ethics under which their paramount obligation is to the administration of justice, and all are subject to a robust and rigorous disciplinary framework that applies equally to all, without fear or favour.”
“The public can and should have confidence in the integrity of the state’s 2,100 practising barristers, who take their ethical obligations very seriously and have been appalled at the revelation of the breaches committed by Nicola Gobbo,” he said.
“In order to restore public confidence in the administration of criminal justice in Victoria, it is vital that there be a full investigation into how Nicola Gobbo came to be an informant, how information provided by her was deployed by Victoria Police, and how the situation was permitted to persist for such a long period of time. For that reason, the Victorian Bar welcomes the work of the Royal Commission into the Management of Informants.”
Speaking earlier today about the revelation of Ms Gobbo’s name, Commissioner Margaret McMurdo said the commission is now better placed to ascertain the full extent of Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a police informer between 1995 and 2009 and the identities of the persons potentially affected.
“We are calling for submissions from individuals who were legally represented by [Ms Gobbo] between 1995 and 2009 and who were found guilty or convicted, and sentenced,” the commissioner said.
“If you were represented by [Ms Gobbo] and believe the outcome of your case may have been affected by her role as an informant with Victoria Police, we encourage you to make a submission. The due date for submissions relating to our first term of reference has been extended to Friday, 15 March 2019.”
As part of its remit, the commission noted in a statement, it is also examining: “The adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police’s current processes for the recruitment, handling and management of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege”.
Further, it is considering “the use of such human source information in the broader criminal justice system, including whether these procedures should be used, and if so, how they can be best implemented in the future.”
The due date for these submissions is now Friday, 12 April 2019, the commission said.