RCMPI

Volume I

Volume I of the Final Report of the Commission into the Management of Police Informants

To view the full report click here.


Date:
November 2020

Introduction

Commissioner’s foreword

In December 2018, the High Court of Australia published its judgement upholding the decisions of Victorian courts to allow the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to disclose to a group of convicted people that defence barrister, Ms Nicola Gobbo, had been a human source. The Court stated:

[Ms Gobbo’s] actions in purporting to act as counsel for the Convicted Persons while covertly informing against them were fundamental and appalling breaches of [her] obligations as counsel to her clients and of [her] duties to the court. Likewise, Victoria Police were guilty of reprehensible conduct in knowingly encouraging [her] to do as she did and were involved in sanctioning atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer to discharge all duties imposed on them faithfully and according to law.

On 13 December 2018, the Victorian Government established this Royal Commission to inquire into and report on cases that may have been affected by Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a human source; the conduct of Victoria Police officers in their use of her as a human source; the adequacy of current processes for the management of human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege; and the use and disclosure of information from such human sources in the criminal justice system.

In the foreword to the Commission’s progress report, I described this task as mammoth in scale and Janus-like in its need to look both to the past and to the future. That description was apt.

The Commission examined events dating back to 1993; received 157 public submissions and 280 witness statements; issued 433 notices to produce and 238 formal requests for information resulting in the production of over 155,000 documents; held 129 days of mostly public hearings; examined 82 witnesses; tendered 1,957 exhibits; and consulted with 97 individuals and organisations. It received a further 45 submissions in response to the closing submissions of Counsel Assisting.

I was greatly assisted by a fine legal team of Counsel Assisting and Solicitors Assisting; a wonderful Chief Executive Officer and lawyer, Ms Kylie Kilgour; and the Commission’s hard-working and talented policy and research, investigations, operations, enquiries, and media and communications teams. The names of the many valued individuals and organisations who contributed to the Commission’s work are listed in Appendix H. I sincerely thank every one of them.

I thank the Fair Work Commission for the use of its premises to conduct hearings, and the Victorian courts for providing the Commission with material essential to the inquiry and prioritising the suppression order proceedings that aided the Commission’s public reporting and other work.

The Victorian media played a critical role in this inquiry. It conscientiously complied with the many complex non-publication orders, appreciating that any slip could endanger lives. In the interests of the public, it rightly tested Victoria Police’s applications to close hearings and for suppression orders. Importantly, its reporting of the hearings increased community awareness of the Commission’s work and helped restore public confidence in the criminal justice system.

I am also grateful to the Victoria Police officers who assisted the Commission, especially those who shared their experience and insight in the Commission’s focus groups. My thanks, too, to the former Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Professor Sir Jonathan Murphy, QPM, DL, for generously sharing his expertise and giving evidence remotely from the United Kingdom, and to the many organisations and experts who shared their knowledge in consultations with the Commission.

On 24 August 2020, 18 months after the High Court’s scathing criticism and the Commission’s establishment, Victoria Police stated for the first time that it:

…accepts without qualification or reservation, that permitting Ms Gobbo…to give information to Victoria Police about her own clients…is reprehensible. It was an indefensible interference in the lawyer/client relationship…essential to the proper functioning of the justice system and to the rule of law. Victoria Police’s failure at the time to ensure that these circumstances were identified and disclosed was also a profound failure.

I welcome Victoria Police’s belated apology for the serious harm caused by its use of Ms Gobbo.

In their complete and unredacted closing submissions, Counsel Assisting invited me to find that Ms Gobbo and named current and former officers may have committed criminal offences. For reasons explained fully elsewhere, I declined to do this. I have found, however, after considering the responsive submissions of Ms Gobbo, those current and former officers, and Victoria Police, that there is sufficient merit in Counsel Assisting’s contentions to warrant further investigation to determine whether to bring criminal charges. I have therefore recommended legislation to establish an independent Special Investigator to undertake this task.

If the Special Investigator assembles sufficient admissible evidence to support criminal charges, they will prepare a brief for the Victorian DPP to determine whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. Even if there is sufficient evidence to bring charges, the DPP’s decision may be difficult. These events occurred long ago. Records may be incomplete and memories may have faded. Ms Gobbo was encouraged in her behaviour by police and now lives in fear of being murdered. The current and former officers acted within what Victoria Police accepts was a failed system and many, perhaps all have had otherwise exemplary careers serving the public good.

If the DPP determines that it is in the public interest to prosecute, those charged will receive a fair trial according to law, unlike those whose trials were corrupted by their conduct.

Taking a broad approach, the Commission has identified 1,011 individuals with convictions or findings of guilt that may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police. That is not to say that all these convictions will be overturned on appeal, but at least these individuals are now aware of the relevant facts and can obtain legal advice to make an informed decision about whether to pursue any appeal rights.

The deception of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police meant that for many years, their improper conduct was hidden. With the future investigation of those responsible, and the appeals of those who failed to receive a fair trial because of this conduct, Victorians can now be assured that their criminal justice system is working as it should.

I recognise that most current Victoria Police officers would not countenance an end-justifies-means approach to criminal investigations. I also recognise that human sources are a valuable tool in detecting and investigating crime. But a robust system of checks and balances is needed to support the ethical management of human sources and prevent improper use of confidential or privileged information.

The Commission has recommended practical, evidence-based reforms to strengthen human source management processes, establish independent oversight and reinforce police disclosure obligations. Together, these recommendations aim to strengthen police practices and the operation of the criminal justice system so that the events that led to this inquiry can never happen again.

In striving for that goal, I welcome the Premier of Victoria’s statement of the Government’s intention to implement all of the Commission’s recommendations, and the commitment of the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police to heed those recommendations and take whatever steps necessary for Victoria Police to learn from its mistakes.


Terms of reference

The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants is appointed to inquire into and report on:

  1. The number of, and extent to which, cases may have been affected by the conduct of [Ms Nicola Gobbo] as a human source.
  2. The conduct of current and former members of Victoria Police in their disclosures about and recruitment, handling and management of [Ms Gobbo] as a human source.
  3. The current adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police’s processes for the recruitment, handling and management of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, including:
    1. whether Victoria Police’s practices continue to comply with the recommendations of the Kellam report
    2. whether the current practices of Victoria Police in relation to such sources are otherwise appropriate.
  4. The current use of human source information in the criminal justice system from human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, subject to section 123 of the Inquiries Act 2014, including:
    1. the appropriateness of Victoria Police’s practices around the disclosure or non-disclosure of the use of such human sources to prosecuting authorities
    2. whether there are adequate safeguards in the way in which Victoria Police prosecutes summary cases, and the Office of Public Prosecutions prosecutes indictable matters on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, when the investigation has involved human source material.
  5. Recommended measures that may be taken to address:
    1. the use of any other human sources who are, or have been, subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege and who come to your attention during the course of your inquiry
    2. any systemic or other failures in Victoria Police’s processes for its disclosures about and recruitment, handling and management of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, and in the use of such human source information in the broader criminal justice system, including how those failures may be avoided in future.
  6. Any other matters necessary to satisfactorily resolve the matters set out in paragraphs 1–5.


Acronyms

ACIC

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

AFP

Australian Federal Police

AOR

Acknowledgement of Responsibilities

ASCR

Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015

ASIO

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

CaRMU

Compliance and Risk Management Unit, Victoria Police

CDPP

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

CMRD

Corporate Management Review Division, Victoria Police

CPD

continuing professional development

CPS

Crown Prosecution Service, United Kingdom

CSR

Central Source Registrar, Victoria Police

DEA

Drug Enforcement Administration, United States of America

DJCS

Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victoria

DPP

Director of Public Prosecutions, Victoria

DSG-A

District Support Group ‘A’, Victoria Police

DST

Dedicated Source Team

DSU

Dedicated Source Unit, Victoria Police

ESD

Ethical Standards Department, Victoria Police

HSMU

Human Source Management Unit, Victoria Police

IBAC

Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, Victoria

ICT

Information and Communication Technology

ICR

Informer Contact Report

ICSC

Intelligence and Covert Support Command, Victoria Police

IGIS

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Australia

IPCO

Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office, United Kingdom

IR

Information Report

LEAP

Law Enforcement Assistance Program, Victoria Police

LSR

Local Source Registrar, Victoria Police

MDID

Major Drug Investigation Division, Victoria Police

NCA

National Crime Authority, Australia

NDIP

National Disclosure Improvement Plan, United Kingdom

OCE

Office of the Chief Examiner, Victoria

OIC

Officer in Charge, Victoria Police

OLSC

Office of the Legal Services Commissioner, New South Wales

OPI

Office of Police Integrity, Victoria

OPP

Office of Public Prosecutions, Victoria

PAB

Police Advisory Branch, Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office

PII

public interest immunity

PIM

Public Interest Monitor, Victoria

RCMP

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

RIPA

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (UK)

SCR

Source Contact Report

SDU

Source Development Unit, Victoria Police

SML

Source Management Log

SRA

Solicitors Regulation Authority, United Kingdom

SWOT

strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

TPA

The Police Association of Victoria

VEOHRC

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

VGSO

Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office

VI

Victorian Inspectorate

VLAB

Victorian Legal Admissions Board

VLAC

Victorian Legal Admissions Committee

VLRC

Victorian Law Reform Commission

VLSB+C

Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner


Glossary

Accused person

A person who has been charged with a criminal offence but is yet to be found guilty or not guilty of that offence. An accused person is also referred to as a defendant in court proceedings.

Acquittal

A judgement by a court that a person is not guilty of a crime with which they have been charged.

Affidavit

A written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation that may be used as a substitute for oral evidence in court.

Amicus curiae

A lawyer who is appointed to assist the court, known as a ‘friend of the court’. They may advise the court on a point of law or on a manner of practice, or when a public interest immunity claim is heard ex parte.

Appeal

A review of a court or tribunal’s decision by a higher court.

Bail

A procedure that allows a person who has been charged with an offence to be released from police control or prison until the hearing of the case.

Barrister

A type of lawyer. Barristers tend to specialise in representing people in court and may give specialist legal advice on complex legal matters. A barrister generally receives instructions from their client (that is, the person they are representing) through a solicitor.

Barristers and solicitors are often collectively referred to as ‘lawyers’.

Brief of evidence

A collection of documents such as witness statements and photographs gathered by the police that the prosecution will use as evidence at a court hearing to prove a criminal charge.

‘Can say’ statement

An unsigned statement given by an accused person (or a person about to charged with an offence) to police outlining the evidence they will be able to give regarding their offence or other offences. A ‘can say’ statement is provided by a person seeking an indemnity or a reduction in penalty.

Civil proceeding

A legal dispute progressing through the courts that is not related to a criminal matter; for example, a personal injury dispute, defamation claim or property dispute.

Client legal privilege

The statutory form of legal professional privilege under the Evidence Act 2008(Vic).

Committal proceeding

An initial hearing held in the Magistrates’ Court to decide whether there is sufficient evidence against an accused person charged with a serious criminal offence for them to be tried in a higher court.

Common law

Law that derives its authority from decisions of the courts rather than from legislation. Also known as ‘case law’.

Conference

A meeting between a person and their barrister to discuss legal matters.

Controlled operation

A police operation that allows police officers or civilians to engage in activity that may otherwise be unlawful, for the purpose of obtaining evidence that may lead to the prosecution of a person for a crime.

Conviction

A formal declaration by a court that a person is guilty of a criminal offence. Convictions appear on a person’s criminal record.

Covert policing

Secret methods or techniques used by police without the person of interest being aware that information about them is being collected.

The use of human sources is one example of covert policing. Other methods include covert recording or surveillance, undercover policing and controlled operations. Covert methods are often used by police in circumstances where information or evidence is difficult to obtain through conventional or ‘overt’ policing methods, such as property search warrants or interviews.

Covert search warrant

A search warrant that permits a secret search of a location. Generally, these need to be approved by a court.

Criminal proceeding

The process of criminal charges being brought against an accused person (also known as the defendant) before a court, from the first court appearance to the final decision.

Disclosure

A process in court proceedings where each party is required to disclose any documents that may be considered relevant to the court case.

In criminal proceedings, the prosecution (including police) has a duty to disclose all evidence that is relevant to the case against an accused person, even if that evidence might undermine the prosecution’s case or help the accused person.

Executive Command

A senior executive group within Victoria Police responsible for setting the strategic direction of Victoria Police, monitoring organisational performance, determining key priorities and risks, and managing organisational capacity and capability.

The Chief Commissioner is the head of the Executive Command group, which also comprises the four Deputy Commissioners and senior public servants.

Ex parte hearing

A hearing where one party (a person or organisation) involved in a court case is not present and has not been given notice of the court proceedings.

Human source

An individual who covertly supplies information to police about crime or people involved in criminal activity, usually with an expectation that their identity will be kept confidential.

Generally, human sources can be distinguished from other people who might provide information to police; for example, witnesses to an accident or victims of crime.

A human source is often referred to as a police ‘informer’ or ‘informant’.

Indictable offence

A more serious criminal offence where the person charged has the right to have their case heard by a judge or jury in the County Court of Victoria or Supreme Court of Victoria.

The ‘indictment’ is the formal charge before the court.

Indictable proceeding

A court proceeding about indictable offences.

Informant

The person who commences a criminal proceeding against an accused person. They are usually a police officer or government official, and are generally responsible for charging a person and giving evidence against the person in court.

Human sources are sometimes referred to as police ‘informants’ or ‘informers’. To avoid confusion, this report generally does not use these terms when referring to human sources.

Law enforcement agency

An agency responsible for enforcing the law; for example, Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime and Intelligence Commission.

Lawyer

A person who has studied law, completed practical legal training and been admitted to legal practice. A lawyer can advise a person about the law and represent them in court.

Both solicitors and barristers are referred to as ‘lawyers’.

Leave to appear

Permission granted by a royal commission to allow a person to appear before or otherwise participate in the inquiry, under theInquiries Act 2014(Vic).

Legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege

Duties imposed on people entrusted with confidential or privileged information to protect the information, and not to disclose or distribute it. For example, lawyers are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege in relation to information their clients provide them, and doctors are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege in relation to information their patients provide them.

Legal professional privilege

A common law right that protects the disclosure of certain communications between a lawyer and a client when those communications are for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or for use in legal proceedings. The statutory form of legal professional privilege is ‘client legal privilege’.

Legislation

Written law made by Parliament. Also known as ‘statutory law’ or ‘statute’.

Letters Patent

The document issued by the Governor of Victoria that formally establishes a royal commission, under the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic).

Miscarriage of justice

Where an accused person is wrongfully convicted of an offence they did not commit, or where they have not received a fair trial due to rules of procedure and evidence not being followed.

Non-parole period

The minimum part of the term of imprisonment a convicted person must serve in prison before they are released on parole to complete their sentence in the community. A non-parole period is set by a magistrate or judge when an accused person is sentenced.

Non-publication order

An order that prohibits or restricts the publication of information.

Notice to attend

A written notice served on a person requiring them to attend a royal commission at a specified time and place to either produce a specified document or give evidence, under the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic).

Notice to produce

A written notice served on a person requiring them to produce a specified document or other thing to a royal commission before a specified time and in a specified manner, under the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic).

Oversight agency

An agency responsible for independent scrutiny and protection of the integrity of the public sector and police; for example, the Independent Broad-based Anti‑corruption Commission, Public Interest Monitor and Victorian Inspectorate.

Parole

The temporary or permanent release of a prisoner before the end of the term of imprisonment under their sentence, to allow the prisoner to serve part of their sentence in the community under supervision and subject to certain conditions on their freedoms.

Petition for mercy

A request by a person convicted of an indictable offence or found not guilty by reason of mental impairment to the Attorney-General, to have their case heard when other avenues of appeal have been exhausted.

Under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009(Vic), the Attorney-General can refer a person’s case to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria for determination or refer a question about the petition to the Supreme Court Trial Division for advice.

Plea agreement

An agreement between the prosecution and an accused person about conditions under which the accused person will plead guilty; for example, a plea agreement might include a condition that the accused person will not be charged for other offences.

Plea hearing

A hearing that occurs if an accused person pleads guilty. It provides an opportunity for the prosecution, defence and victim to present information that they want the judge to take into account when deciding on the accused person’s sentence.

Police misconduct

Conduct that constitutes an offence punishable by imprisonment; is likely to bring Victoria Police into disrepute or diminish public confidence in it; or is disgraceful or improper, under the Victoria Police Act 2013(Vic).

Police officer

A member of Victoria Police who has taken an oath or made an affirmation to, among other things, discharge all the duties legally imposed on them faithfully and according to law.

This report generally uses the term ‘police officer’ rather than ‘police member’.

Potentially affected person

A person, convicted of a criminal offence, whose case the Commission assessed and then determined may have been affected by Victoria Police’s use of Ms Nicola Gobbo as a human source.

Prosecuting authority

An agency responsible for conducting criminal matters in court on behalf of the State.

Public interest immunity

A rule of evidence used in court proceedings or inquiries where the State seeks to withhold relevant information on the basis that production of that information would be contrary to the public interest.

The identity of human sources and information that might reveal covert police methods are typically protected by public interest immunity, because of the need to keep the information confidential. The information will not be protected by public interest immunity if the court determines that there is a greater public interest in disclosing it.

Quash

A decision of a court to discharge or set aside a decision previously made by a court.

Rank

The level of a police officer’s position within an organisation, defining their authority and responsibility.

Victoria Police ranks, in order of seniority, are: Constable; First Constable; Senior Constable; Leading Senior Constable; Sergeant; Senior Sergeant; Inspector; Superintendent; Commander; Assistant Commissioner; Deputy Commissioner and Chief Commissioner.

Remand

An order that an accused person be kept in police custody or imprisoned until they go to court for a hearing.

Sentence

The penalty (or punishment) issued by a magistrate or judge when a person has been convicted or found guilty of a criminal offence.

Solicitor

A type of lawyer. Solicitors provide legal advice to individuals and organisations and will sometimes instruct a barrister to assist with representing their clients in court or to provide advice on complex legal issues.

Solicitors and barristers are often collectively referred to as ‘lawyers’.

Statutory law

Written law made by Parliament. Also known as ‘legislation’ or ‘statute’.

Stay (a proceeding)

A decision by a court to temporarily or indefinitely stop a court proceeding.

Subpoena

A legal document issued by the court at the request of a party to a case, which compels a person or entity to produce documents to a court or compels a person to attend court and give evidence at a hearing or trial. It is sometimes also referred to as a ‘summons’.

Summary offence

A less serious criminal offence generally heard in the Magistrates’ Court by a magistrate.

Summary proceeding

A court proceeding about a summary offence in the Magistrates’ Court.

Suppression order

An order that prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information.

Surveillance devices

Any instruments, apparatus or equipment used for the purposes of monitoring or tracking an individual or group of people subject to surveillance. Generally, the use of such devices by police requires a warrant issued by a court.

Telephone intercepts

Covert listening and recording of communications passing over a telecommunications network, such as telephone conversations or text messages. Generally, police need a warrant issued by a court to intercept telecommunications.

Terms of reference

A statement setting out the purpose and scope of an inquiry. A royal commission’s terms of reference are set out in its Letters Patent.


Summary of human source management terms and processes

In several parts of this final report, the Commission discusses how Victoria Police uses and manages human sources.

The key terms, processes, roles and responsibilities related to Victoria Police’s current use and management of human sources are set out below. Some of these are broadly similar to those that existed when Victoria Police registered and used Ms Nicola Gobbo as a human source for the third time between 2005 and 2009; for example, the requirement to appoint a police ‘handler’ to manage day-to-day interactions with a human source. Others have changed since then; for example, the governance and decision-making processes applicable to the use of certain human sources, such as lawyers.

Where arrangements have changed substantially over time, this is indicated below.

Types of human sources

Human sources are people who covertly supply information about a crime or people involved in criminal activity to police or other law enforcement agencies, generally on an ongoing basis, with the expectation that their identity will be protected. This distinguishes them from other people who provide information to law enforcement agencies; for example, victims of crime or witnesses.

Human sources are sometimes also referred to as police ‘informants’ or ‘informers’. These terms are not used to describe human sources in this final report, in part to avoid confusion with police officer informants who commence a criminal proceeding against an accused person.

The Commission uses the following terms to refer to different types of human sources:

  • Human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege—people who covertly supply information about a crime or people involved in criminal activity to police and are also subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege as a result of their occupations (for example, lawyers or doctors).
  • Human sources involving legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege—people who covertly supply information about a crime or people involved in criminal activity to police, and either hold legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege themselves; or do not hold those obligations themselves but have access to information that may be confidential or privileged (for example, the spouse of a lawyer or receptionist working in a medical clinic).
  • High-risk human sources—human sources who are considered ‘high risk’ based on a risk assessment conducted by Victoria Police. Factors that might increase a person’s risk include them having a violent criminal history, a high likelihood of coming to personal harm or death should their informing become known, or legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.
  • Community sources—human sources whose role is typically confined to providing general information acquired during their daily activities and whom the police cannot ‘task’ to actively gather information. In May 2020, Victoria Police stopped using this term and broadened its general definition of human source to cover these types of sources.
  • Prospective human sources—people being assessed or considered by Victoria Police as to whether they will be registered as a human source. Victoria Police policy requires that all human sources be registered.

Key elements of human source management

Figure A displays the key elements of Victoria Police’s human source management framework. These elements are broadly similar to those that operate in other jurisdictions.

While specific requirements have changed over time, the overarching elements that operate now are consistent with those that existed when Victoria Police used Ms Gobbo as a human source in 2005–09.

Figure A: Common elements of human source management
Figure A- Common elements of human source management

Assess

Prior to using a human source, police officers must assess the risks and the appropriateness of using that person as a source. Officers do this by completing a:

  • Risk assessment—the process of identifying and assessing risks and any steps that can be taken to reduce identified risks, whether to the source, Victoria Police, its officers or others. Officers use a form to record information about the prospective human source and this information is assessed to determine a risk rating (for example, ‘low risk’, ‘medium risk’ or ‘high risk’).

Register

Registration refers to the process whereby the use of a person as a human source is authorised. A police officer must first prepare a registration application, which is then reviewed by more senior officers. The application must include a risk assessment, mentioned above, along with an:

  • Acknowledgement of Responsibilities (AOR)formal acknowledgement by the human source that they are to be registered as a source and the conditions of their registration (for example, the AOR might state that the source is not to engage in criminal activity).

Manage

The management phase involves police meeting and engaging with the human source, gathering information from them and making records of their interactions.

In managing a human source, police should conduct ongoing reviews to monitor any changes to the risks of using the source and/or identify any new risks that may have arisen.

Key terms associated with the day-to-day management of human sources are:

  • Human source information—information that is supplied to police by a human source about a person or organisation associated with alleged criminal activity.
  • Source Contact Report (SCR)—a report that details all relevant information about any contact with a human source, whether by phone, face-to-face or other means. A SCR was previously called an Informer Contact Report (ICR). A report should contain a detailed account of the meeting and any other information to be disseminated to investigators.
  • Source Management Log (SML)a record of the day-to-day management of a human source detailing all relevant information; specifically, information provided by the source, references to Source Contact Reports and Information Reports, any risks that have arisen in the management of the source and any information disseminated to investigators.
  • Sterile corridor—the practice whereby the police officers responsible for managing the human source (handling team) are not the same officers who are conducting investigations that may rely on information that the human source has provided. Officers in the handling team ‘sanitise’ (de-identify) information provided by the human source before disseminating the information to investigators. The main purpose of the sterile corridor is to protect the safety of the human source, by minimising the number of people aware of their identity and/or existence.
  • Tasking—an assignment or instruction given to a human source by police, in order to gather intelligence about criminal activity. If tasking involves conduct that could be criminal, authority must be first be obtained under the Crimes (Controlled Operations) Act 2004(Vic).

Share

The sharing of human source information by the handling team to investigating teams occurs through an:

  • Information report (IR)a short summary of information gathered by police. In the case of human source management, an IR is generated from information in a Source Contact Report, which is sanitised to remove or reduce any detail that might enable someone to ascertain the identity and/or existence of the human source.

Deactivate

Police officers may deactivate a human source when there is no further operational need for the source or if they are to be transitioned to the role of a witness in the prosecution of a criminal offence.

Victoria Police human source policy

Victoria Police has produced internal guidance for officers about the use of human sources since 1986. It issued the first comprehensive organisation-wide policy in 2003.

The current policy is:

  • Victoria Police ManualHuman Sources (Human Source Policy)—a document that sets out requirements for risk assessment, registration, management and deactivation of human sources. It also sets out the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the use and management of human sources and outlines other requirements; for example, relating to record keeping and approval of payments to human sources.

For most of the Commission’s inquiry, from December 2018 to May 2020, the Human Source Policy in force was the May 2018 version. A new policy dated 15 April 2020 came into force on 4 May 2020.

Human source management roles and responsibilities

As shown in Figure B, the governance and decision-making structure in Victoria Police’s human source management framework is multi-levelled and consists of:

  • handling teams
  • centralised internal oversight
  • governance by senior officers and committees.

Figure B and the information in this section represent Victoria Police’s current governance arrangements, roles and responsibilities, but these are broadly consistent with those that existed when Ms Gobbo was used as a human source from 2005–09. There are some key differences, however—for example, the Human Source Ethics Committee was only introduced in 2014.

Figure B: Human source governance structure, Victoria Police

Figure B- Human source governance structure, Victoria Police

Handling teams

handling team is a team of police officers responsible for the handling and management of a human source. Handling teams may be ‘dedicated’ or ‘non-dedicated’:

  • Dedicated source team (DST)—a team of police officers who are dedicated to and specialise in managing human sources. These teams may also focus on recruitment and development of new sources.
  • Non-dedicated handling team—a team of police officers who manage human sources but also have other policing duties, such as investigating crime.

In either case, a handling team is made up of the following police officers, listed here in ascending order of seniority:

  • Handleran officer who acts as the primary point of contact for a human source.They are also responsible for applying to register a prospective human source, keeping and maintaining the records associated with the source’s registration and notifying senior officers of issues and risks that may arise in managing the source.
  • Co-handler—an officer who assists the handler and acts as the primary point of contact for a human source if the primary handler is unavailable.
  • Controlleran officer generally at the rank of Sergeant or above, who directly supervises the handler and co-handler. They monitor and review human source files to ensure compliance with policy requirements, such as the completion of risk assessments, documentation of contacts with the human source, and requests for deactivation. A controller also provides guidance to the handler and co-handler and is responsible for knowing how, where and when handlers are meeting with human sources.
  • Officer in Charge (OIC)an officer generally at the rank of Senior Sergeant or Inspector, who has responsibility for managing the officers in the handling team (except the Local Source Registrar). They review registration applications and provide oversight and advice.
  • Local Source Registrar (LSR)a Superintendent who heads a divisional command and who has responsibility for oversight of handling teams in their division. LSRs were previously known as Local Informer Registrars. The LSR endorses, rejects or makes recommendations in relation to proposed actions or applications, such as registering or deactivating a human source. In doing so, they are required to review and evaluate the risk assessments and mitigation strategies and ensure that required documentation is uploaded to the electronic investigation and intelligence management system, Interpose, within specified timeframes.

During Ms Gobbo’s third registration as a human source in 2005–09, she was handled by the Source Development Unit (SDU) and its predecessor, the Dedicated Source Unit (DSU). Both units consisted of specially trained handlers and controllers.

Centralised internal oversight

Centralised internal oversight is a governance model where one section of an organisation is responsible for setting standards and overseeing a certain function. In Victoria Police’s human source management framework, this is performed by the:

  • Central Source Registrar (CSR)the Detective Superintendent, Covert Services Division. The CSR has oversight of all human source registrations and activity and has final decision-making authority if a disagreement about the handling and management of individual human sources arises.
  • Human Source Management Unit (HSMU)a unit within the Covert Services Division that:
    • oversees all human source activity to ensure compliance with the Human Source Policy requirements
    • provides advice and support to handling teams
    • coordinates and provides human source management training.

The Covert Services Division is one of the six divisions that form Victoria Police’s Intelligence and Covert Support Command.

Broadly, these roles and functions have existed in Victoria Police’s human source management framework since 2007; however, prior to 2006, the HSMU’s role was performed by the then Informer Management Unit and, prior to 2007, the CSR was called the Central Informer Registrar.

Governance and final registration

Under its current Human Source Policy, and as shown in Figure B, Victoria Police’s internal governance and decision-making structure for human source management is carried out by the:

  • Human Source Ethics Committee—an internal Victoria Police committee, established in 2014 and chaired by the Assistant Commissioner, Intelligence and Covert Support Command, that provides governance and approves the registration of certain human sources, including those involving legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.
  • Assistant Commissioner, Intelligence and Covert Support Command—the officer who oversees all human source management across the organisation and is responsible for the Human Source Policy.
  • Deputy Commissioner, Specialist Operations—the officer who is responsible for the promotion and implementation of the Human Source Policy. Since May 2020, the Deputy Commissioner has been responsible for approving: (a) any registration of a human source where it is intended to obtain legally confidential or privileged information; and (b) any proposed use of information that appears to be in breach of a human source’s legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.
  • Human Source Advisory Committee—an internal Victoria Police committee, chaired by the Central Source Registrar, that provides strategic advice, feedback and guidance in the management of human sources. It is the conduit between Victoria Police regions and commands that manage human sources, the Central Source Registrar and the Human Source Management Unit.
  • Human Source Rewards Committee—an internal Victoria Police committee, chaired by the Assistant Commissioner, Intelligence and Covert Support Command, that manages and approves the payment of cash or any benefit to a human source as a reward for information given to Victoria Police.

As this governance structure has only existed since 2014, not all these arrangements were in place in 2005–09 when Ms Gobbo was registered as a human source. Victoria Police’s human source program did, however, report through a chain of command to an Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. There were also similar committees to the Human Source Rewards Committee that were responsible for approving payments to human sources, including one called the Payments Committee.


List of key police taskforces and operations

Briars Taskforce

The Briars Taskforce was established in 2007 as a joint taskforce between Victoria Police and the Office of Police Integrity. It was established after Mr Gregory (a pseudonym) made several statements alleging police corruption regarding the 2003 murder of Mr Shane Chartres-Abbott. The Briars Taskforce Board of Management initially included Victoria Police officers Mr Simon Overland, Mr Thomas (Luke) Cornelius, and Assistant Director (later Deputy Director) of the Office of Police Integrity, Mr Graham Ashton. Key investigators were Mr Rodney (Rod) Wilson, Mr Stephen (Steve) Waddell and Mr Ronald (Ron) Iddles.

Ceja Taskforce

The Ceja Taskforce was established by Victoria Police in 2002 as part of the Ethical Standards Department. It was the successor to Operation Hemi and was tasked to investigate allegations of criminality against Victoria Police Drug Squad officers, including Mr Wayne Strawhorn. Mr Peter De Santo was a key investigator transferred from Operation Hemi to Ceja Taskforce.

Driver Taskforce

The Driver Taskforce was established by Victoria Police in 2010 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder of Mr Carl Williams. The Driver Taskforce Steering Committee included Victoria Police officers Sir Kenneth (Ken) Jones, Mr Dannye Moloney, Mr Graham Ashton, Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, Mr Emmett Dunne, Mr Doug Fryer and Mr Michael (Mick) Frewen.

Taskforce Kayak

Taskforce Kayak was established by Victoria Police in 2000. Its most prominent investigation was Operation 1 (a pseudonym). Key investigators included Mr Paul Firth, Mr David Bartlett, Mr David Miechel, Mr Stephen (Steve) Paton, Mr Martin Allison, Mr Malcolm Rosenes, Mr Wayne Strawhorn and Police Officer 1 (a pseudonym).

Taskforce Landow

Taskforce Landow was established by Victoria Police in 2018 to assist the work of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants.

Lorimer Taskforce

The Lorimer Taskforce was established by Victoria Police in 1998 to investigate the murders of Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rod Miller. Investigators connected to the Lorimer Taskforce that are relevant to this inquiry included Mr Paul Sheridan, Officer Black (a pseudonym) and Mr Paul Dale.

Petra Taskforce

The Petra Taskforce was established by Victoria Police and the Office of Police Integrity in 2007 to investigate the murders of Mr Terrence (Terry) and Mrs Christine Hodson. The Petra Taskforce Board of Management initially included Victoria Police officers Mr Simon Overland, Mr Thomas (Luke) Cornelius, Mr Gavan Ryan and the Assistant Director (later Deputy Director) of the Office of Police Integrity, Mr Graham Ashton. Key Victoria Police investigators included Mr Shane O’Connell, Mr Solon (Sol) Solomon, Mr Gavan Ryan, Mr Steven (Steve) Smith and Mr Cameron Davey.

Purana Taskforce

The Purana Taskforce was established by Victoria Police in 2003 to investigate the Melbourne ‘gangland’ murders. It was overseen by an executive management team that initially included Mr Simon Overland, Mr Terry Purton, Mr John Whitmore and Mr Andrew Allen. Key investigators included Mr Stuart Bateson, Mr Mark Hatt, Mr Dale Flynn, Mr Jason Kelly, Mr Gavan Ryan and Mr James (Jim) O’Brien.

Operation 1 (a pseudonym)

Operation 1 was established by Victoria Police in 2000 as part of the Kayak Taskforce and targeted drug importation, manufacture and trafficking. The major target of this operation was Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel. Mr Luxmore (a pseudonym) and Mr Joseph Parisi were ultimately convicted as a result of Operation 1. Charges laid against Mr Tony Mokbel, Mr Milad Mokbel and Mr Rabie (Rob) Karam were later withdrawn.

Operation Bendigo

Operation Bendigo was established by Victoria Police in 2014. Its terms of reference included overseeing the protection and management of Ms Nicola Gobbo and overseeing Victoria Police’s implementation of recommendations made by several reviews of Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source. Operation Bendigo investigated five cases of potential legal conflict that arose from the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and that may have resulted in miscarriages of justice.

Operation Bootham Moko

Operation Bootham Moko was established by the Australian Federal Police in 2007 to target the importation of MDMA. The shipment commonly referred to as the ‘Tomato Tins’ importation was seized under Operation Bootham Moko. Mr Rabie (Rob) Karam, Mr Saverio Zirilli, Mr Pasquale Barbaro, Mr John Higgs, Mr Salvatore Agresta, Mr Pasquale John Sergi, Mr Jan Visser and Mr Carmelo Falanga were ultimately convicted as a result of the operation.

Operation Clarendon

Operation Clarendon was established by Victoria Police in 2002 to assess and investigate information provided by former police officer and barrister Mr Kerry Milte regarding organised crime. In 2008, the Office of Police Integrity produced a report on Operation Clarendon, which identified significant deficiencies in Victoria Police’s human source management policies and procedures.

Operation Clonk

Operation Clonk was established by Victoria Police in 2003 to investigate the murder of Mr Shane Chartres-Abbott. Operation Clonk was conducted by the Homicide Squad until the establishment of the Briars Taskforce in 2007.

Operation Diana

Operation Diana was established by the Office of Police Integrity in 2007. It was tasked with investigating alleged unauthorised communication of confidential information by Victoria Police officer Mr Noel Ashby regarding the Briars Taskforce and alleged improper associations between Mr Ashby and others. Mr Ashby and The Police Association Secretary, Mr Paul Mullett, were charged in 2008 with offences arising out of Operation Diana. The criminal charges were ultimately resolved by way of a combination of discharge, discontinuance and acquittal.

Operation Galop

Operation Galop was established by the Victoria Police Major Drug Investigation Division in 2003, to investigate the commercial drug manufacturing and trafficking of ecstasy tablets at a house located in Dublin Street, Oakleigh. The investigation targeted Mr Azzam (Adam) Ahmed, Ms Colleen O’Reilly, Ms Abbey Haynes and others who were ultimately charged. The investigative team was led by then Victoria Police officer Mr Paul Dale and included Mr David Miechel.

Operation Gosford

Operation Gosford was established by Victoria Police in 2007 to investigate threats made against Ms Gobbo. The investigation was conducted by Purana Taskforce officers, including Mr Paul Rowe, Mr Craig Hayes and Mr Dale Flynn.

Operation Hemi

Operation Hemi was established by Victoria Police’s Ethical Standards Department in 2000 to investigate allegations of corruption. The investigation led to the arrest of Mr Stephen (Steve) Paton and Mr Malcolm Rosenes of Victoria Police’s Drug Squad. Mr Peter De Santo was a key investigator.

Operation Inca

Operation Inca was established in 2008 as a joint investigation between the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police, the then Australian Crime Commission, Australian Customs and the Australian Taxation Office into money laundering, drug importation and trafficking after the ‘Tomato Tins’ shipment was seized. Twenty-eight people were convicted as a result of Operation Inca, including Mr Rabie (Rob) Karam, Mr Pasquale Barbaro, Mr Saverio Zirilli, Mr Francesco Madafferi, Mr Salvatore Agresta, Mr Pasquale John Sergi, Mr Giovanni Polimeni, Mr Antonio (Tony) Sergi and Ms Sharon Ropa.

Operation Khadi

Operation Khadi was established in 2006 as a joint investigation between the Victoria Police Ethical Standards Department and the Office of Police Integrity into an alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice by officers of Victoria Police’s Brighton police station, including Mr David Waters, Mr Stephen Campbell, Mr Steven Boyle and Mr Richard Shields. Key investigators were Mr Rodney (Rod) Wilson and Mr Lindsay Attrill from the Ethical Standards Department and Mr John Kapetanovski from the Office of Police Integrity.

Operation Landslip

Operation Landslip was established by Victoria Police in 2001 to investigate the manufacture of methamphetamine at a clandestine laboratory in Pascoe Vale. Operation Landslip ended when the Pascoe Vale South laboratory caught fire in 2002. Mr Cooper (a pseudonym) was ultimately convicted as a result of Operation Landslip. Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel and Mr Kabalan Mokbel were charged but the charges were ultimately discontinued. Key investigators included Mr Dale Flynn and Mr James (Jim) O’Brien.

Operation Loricated

Operation Loricated was established by Victoria Police in 2013 to implement Recommendation 1 of the Comrie Review. Its objective was to reconstruct and consolidate Ms Gobbo’s human source file into one place on Victoria Police’s Interpose system.

Operation Loris

Operation Loris was established in 2004 by Victoria Police. It was the initial investigation into the murder of Mr Terrence (Terry) and Mrs Christine Hodson and involved telephone intercepts targeting Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel, who had been identified as involved in the transmission of a police information report containing intelligence provided by Mr Hodson as a human source. Key investigators included Mr Solon (Sol) Solomon and Mr Cameron Davey.

Operation Magnum

Operation Magnum was established by Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce in 2006 to investigate the large-scale manufacture and distribution of methylamphetamine by a criminal enterprise headed by Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel. It culminated in the arrest of Mr Mokbel in Athens in 2007. Sixteen people were convicted as a result of Operation Magnum, including Mr Mokbel, Mr David Tricarico, Mr Chafic Issa and Mr Elk (a pseudonym). Key investigators included Mr James (Jim) O’Brien and Mr James Coghlan.

Operation Matchless

Operation Matchless was established by the Victoria Police Major Drug Investigation Division in 2003 to investigate the manufacture of methamphetamine at a clandestine laboratory in Rye. Numerous individuals were convicted as a result of Operation Matchless, including Mr Cooper (a pseudonym), Mr Jacques El-Hage, Mr King (a pseudonym), Mr Ibrahim Kurnaz, Mr Kabalan Mokbel, Mr Milad Mokbel and Mr Noel Laurie. Charges against Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel under this operation were ultimately discontinued. Key investigators included Mr James (Jim) O’Brien and Mr Dale Flynn.

Operation Neon

Operation Neon was established in 2007 as a joint investigation between Victoria Police’s Briars Taskforce and the Office of Police Integrity into the murder of Mr Shane Chartres-Abbott, including the alleged involvement of then Victoria Police officers Mr David Waters and Mr Peter Lalor.

Operation Nutation

Operation Nutation was established by the Victoria Police Ethical Standards Department in 2003, in response to the unexpected conclusion of Operation Galop. It investigated the roles of then Victoria Police officers Mr Paul Dale and Mr David Miechel in the burglary of a house in Dublin Street, Oakleigh. It also involved avenues of inquiry in relation to statements made by Mr Terrence (Terry) Hodson implicating Mr Dale in the burglary.

Operation Oboe

Operation Oboe was established by the Office of Police Integrity in 2004 to investigate whether Mr Paul Dale or another Victoria Police officer was responsible for the disclosure of an information report identifying Mr Terrence (Terry) Hodson as a human source. The Office of Police Integrity identified Mr Dale as a person of interest, and communications between him and Ms Gobbo were examined by the operation. Mr Timothy (Tim) Argall was identified as the ‘go between’ for Ms Gobbo and Mr Dale.

Operation Orbital

Operation Orbital was established by the Australian Federal Police in 2005 and targeted Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel. Under this operation, Mr Mokbel sought to purchase MDMA powder from two undercover operatives, which was to be used in pill presses to manufacture MDMA pills. Mr Mokbel was ultimately convicted as a result of this operation.

Operation Pedal

Operation Pedal was established by Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce in 2005 to investigate alleged money laundering offences committed by Solicitor 2 (a pseudonym). Key Victoria Police investigators included Mr Craig Wilson, Mr Stuart Bateson and Mr Gavan Ryan.

Operation Phlange (or Operation Flange)

Operation Phlange was established by the Australian Federal Police in 1995 to investigate money laundering activities of the Goldberg family. It led to the arrest of Ms Rita Goldberg, who was charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth. Ms Gobbo worked as a solicitor at the law firm that represented Ms Goldberg during the committal proceedings.

Operation Posse

Operation Posse was established by Victoria Police in 2004. It was conducted by the Purana Taskforce and concerned the manufacture of methamphetamine by the Mokbel family and associates at three clandestine laboratories. Many people were convicted as a result of this operation, including Mr Agrum (a pseudonym), Mr Cooper (a pseudonym), Mr Zlate Cvetanovski and Mr Milad Mokbel. Key investigators included Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, Mr Paul Rowe, Mr Dale Flynn, and Mr Craig Hayes.

Operation Quills

Operation Quills was established by Victoria Police’s Major Drug Investigation Division in 2005. It investigated the use of pill presses to manufacture MDMA. Mr Bickley (a pseudonym) and Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel were ultimately convicted as a result of this operation. Key investigators included Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, Mr Dale Flynn, Mr Steve Mansell, Mr Craig Hayes and Mr Paul Rowe.

Operation Ramsden

Operation Ramsden was established by the Victoria Police Asset Recovery Squad in 1999 to investigate alleged fraud and money laundering by Solicitor 1 (a pseudonym). Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope registered Ms Gobbo as human source ‘MFG13’ as part of this operation, which concluded later in 1999.

Operation Scorn

Operation Scorn was established by Victoria Police in 1996 to investigate Mr Brian Wilson, Ms Gobbo’s then de facto partner, in relation to alleged possession of drugs and firearms. Mr Craig Brien was the lead investigator and Ms Gobbo provided information to assist police. Operation Scorn was cancelled due to concerns Ms Gobbo was behaving inappropriately.

Operation Spake

Operation Spake was established by Victoria Police in 2003 to investigate the manufacture of methylamphetamine at clandestine laboratories in Toolern Vale and Springvale. Mr Matthew Finn and Mr Wayne Finn were convicted as a result of this operation, while charges against Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel were ultimately discontinued. Key investigators included Mr Craig Hayes and Mr Jason Kelly.

Operation Yak

Operation Yak was established by Victoria Police in 1993 following information received that Mr Brian Wilson, Ms Gobbo’s then defacto partner and co-owner of a house in Carlton, Melbourne, was trafficking drugs. This led to the execution of a search warrant at the house. Mr Wilson was charged with drug trafficking and use and possession of a drug of dependence, for which he received a suspended sentence. Ms Gobbo was charged with the possession and use of amphetamine and cannabis. She pleaded guilty and received a good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded.


List of key people relevant to the use of Ms Nicola Gobbo as a human source

Nicola Gobbo

Ms Nicola Gobbo was a practising criminal defence barrister between 1997 and 2010 and represented a number of high-profile clients involved in Melbourne’s ‘gangland wars’. At various times between 1995 and 2009, Ms Gobbo was also a registered human source for Victoria Police. In this role, she provided information about numerous people, including some of her clients. After being deregistered as a human source in January 2009, Ms Gobbo continued to provide information to Victoria Police until at least 2010. Ms Gobbo has also been referred to as ‘Lawyer X’, ‘EF’, ‘Witness F’ and by her human source registration numbers ‘3838’ and ‘2958’.

Victoria Police

Leadership of Victoria Police

Graham Ashton

Between 2004 and 2009, Mr Graham Ashton, AM, APM was the Assistant Director and later Deputy Director of the Office of Police Integrity. He was a member of joint Victoria Police–Office of Police Integrity Boards of Management for the Petra and Briars Taskforces involved in the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and was involved in discussions about Ms Gobbo transitioning from a human source to a witness in relation to the prosecution of Mr Paul Dale.

In 2009, Mr Ashton joined Victoria Police and in 2011, he was appointed Assistant Commissioner, Crime. Mr Ashton was appointed Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police in 2015. He retired from this position in 2020.

Timothy (Tim) Cartwright

In 2011, Mr Tim Cartwright, APM was the Acting Deputy Commissioner, Crime and Operations Support, at Victoria Police. He took part in negotiations about the use of Ms Gobbo as a witness against Mr Paul Dale. In 2012, he supported the establishment of the Comrie Review, which examined the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

In 2013, Mr Cartwright was appointed Executive Sponsor for Operation Loricated, which implemented a recommendation of the Comrie Review. In 2014, as Acting Chief Commissioner, he was involved in Victoria Police’s response to the ‘Lawyer X’ articles published by the Herald Sun. In early 2015, Mr Cartwright was involved in responding to the Kellam Report and implementing a number of its recommendations.

Thomas (Luke) Cornelius

Mr Luke Cornelius, APM was the Assistant Commissioner of the Ethical Standards Department of Victoria Police between 2005 and 2010. In 2006, he was involved in Operation Khadi. From 2007 to 2010, he was a member on the Briars Taskforce Board of Management and between 2008 and 2010, he was a member of the Petra Taskforce Board of Management.

Sir Kenneth (Ken) Jones

Between 2009 and 2011, Sir Ken Jones, QPM held the role of Deputy Commissioner, Crime, at Victoria Police. Prior to this, Sir Ken had occupied a number of senior policing roles in the United Kingdom. He took control of the Briars and Petra Taskforces in early 2010 and led the Driver Taskforce after the murder of Mr Carl Williams in 2010. Sir Ken left Victoria Police in 2011.

Kenneth (Ken) Lay

During 2011, Mr Ken Lay, AO, APM was the Acting Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police and was involved in establishing the Comrie Review. In late 2011, Mr Lay was appointed Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police. He remained in that position until his resignation in 2015.

Christine Nixon

Ms Christine Nixon, APM was Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police between 2001 and 2009. In 2001, she commissioned the Purton Review to examine corruption and other issues in the Drug Squad. As a result of that review, she introduced structural changes to the Drug Squad, replacing it with the Major Drug Investigation Division. Victoria Police’s first comprehensive, organisation-wide human source management policy was introduced during Ms Nixon’s time as Chief Commissioner.

Simon Overland

Mr Simon Overland, APM was the Assistant Commissioner, Crime, at Victoria Police in 2003. Between 2003 and 2008, he had oversight of several investigations relating to the Purana, Petra and Briars Taskforces, in which officers had dealings with Ms Gobbo. In 2006, he sat on the Rewards Committee that approved the withdrawal of Ms Gobbo’s speeding fines, along with Mr Jack Blayney and Mr Dannye Moloney. In the same year, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner and continued to be involved in investigations that related to Ms Gobbo.

In 2009, Mr Overland was appointed Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police. He resigned from that role in 2011.

Shane Patton

Mr Shane Patton, APM is the current Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police. He assumed that role in mid-2020. Mr Patton previously held the role of Deputy Commissioner, Specialist Operations, from 2015, before moving to the role of Deputy Commissioner, Regional Operations, in 2018.

Mr Patton chaired the Bendigo Taskforce Steering Committee. While in this role, he was involved in discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding disclosure of Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and with the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission regarding potential misconduct by police officers in their use of Ms Gobbo.

Mr Patton was Mr Simon Overland’s chief of staff at the time that Mr Overland resigned in 2011.

Officers of the Source Development Unit1

Anthony (Tony) Biggin

Between 2005 and 2010, Mr Tony Biggin was a Superintendent in the Covert Services Division of the Intelligence and Covert Support Command and managed several units in this division. In 2006, he audited Ms Gobbo’s human source file and in the same year he went on to manage the Source Development Unit, which had responsibility for the management of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

Douglas (Doug) Cowlishaw

Between 2005 and 2006, Mr Doug Cowlishaw was the Detective Acting Superintendent of the State Intelligence Division. He was the immediate supervisor of Officer Sandy White (a pseudonym), who was Ms Gobbo’s dedicated controller when she was managed by the Source Development Unit. He was listed as the Officer in Charge on the application that registered Ms Gobbo as a human source.

Robert (Rob) Hardie

Between 2005 and 2008, Mr Rob Hardie was the Detective Inspector and Officer in Charge of the Source Development Unit.

Andrew Glow

Between 2008 and 2011, Mr Andrew Glow was the Inspector in charge of the Source Development Unit.

John O’Connor

Mr John O’Connor was a Detective Inspector in charge of the Source Development Unit from 2010 until its closure in 2013. He acted as Ms Gobbo’s point of contact between 2010 and 2012.

Paul Sheridan

Between 2010 and 2015, Mr Paul Sheridan was the Detective Superintendent in charge of the Covert Services Division, which included the Source Development Unit until its closure in 2013. He was involved in discussions about managing Ms Gobbo as a witness in relation to Mr Paul Dale.

1 The Source Development Unit was formerly known as the Dedicated Source Unit.

Handlers and Controllers
Officer Sandy White (a pseudonym) Officer Sandy White was Ms Gobbo’s dedicated controller at the Source Development Unit during the period of her registration as a human source between 2005 and 2009. His role also included acting as the Officer in Charge of the unit, given the absence of a full-time Inspector.
Officer Black (a pseudonym) Officer Black acted as Ms Gobbo’s controller when Officer Sandy White was on leave. He also acted as one of Ms Gobbo’s handlers between 2005 and 2006.
Officer Peter Smith (a pseudonym) Officer Peter Smith attended the introductory meeting between the Source Development Unit, Ms Gobbo and members of the Major Drug Investigation Division. He acted as one of Ms Gobbo’s handlers for periods between 2005 and 2009.

Officer Anderson (a pseudonym)

Officer Anderson was Ms Gobbo’s handler at certain periods between 2006 and 2007.

Officer Green (a pseudonym)

Officer Green was Ms Gobbo’s handler at certain periods between 2006 and 2008. He was also seconded to the Drug Taskforce between June and September 2007.

Officer Fox (a pseudonym)

Officer Fox was Ms Gobbo’s handler at certain periods between 2007 and 2009.

Officer Pearce (a pseudonym)

Officer Pearce was seconded to the Source Development Unit in 2011. He was involved in matters relating to Ms Gobbo during the trial of Mr Zlate Cvetanovski.

Officer Richards (a pseudonym)

Officer Richards was handler between 2006 and 2009 for human sources other than Ms Gobbo. He acted as controller when Officer Sandy White was on leave in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In 2012, Mr Richards had conversations with Ms Gobbo while she was being assessed for witness protection.

Officer Wolf (a pseudonym)

Officer Wolf was Ms Gobbo’s handler at certain periods in 2008.

Investigators and other Victoria Police personnel

Timothy (Tim) Argall

Between 1995 and 1996, Mr Tim Argall was a Constable in District Support Group ‘A’. He spoke to Ms Gobbo several times about her then de facto partner, Mr Brian Wilson.

In 2003, Mr Argall associated with Ms Gobbo socially. During this time, he also associated with Mr Paul Dale. After Mr Dale was arrested in connection with the burglary of a house in Dublin Street, Oakleigh, Mr Argall sought legal advice from Ms Gobbo due to his friendship with Mr Dale.

Noel Ashby

Mr Noel Ashby, APM was an Assistant Commissioner at Victoria Police from 1998 to 2007. He was alleged to have been involved in leaking confidential information regarding the Briars Taskforce, alongside Mr Paul Mullett. In 2008, he was charged with offences that were ultimately resolved by a combination of discharge, discontinuance and acquittal.

Trevor Ashton

Mr Trevor Ashton was involved in executing a search warrant at Ms Gobbo’s house in 1993, when he was a Sergeant at District Support Group ‘A’ at Victoria Police. Ms Gobbo later provided information to him about her partner’s drug activities. He registered her as a human source in 1995 (her first registration).

Lindsay Attrill

Mr Lindsay Attrill was a Detective Inspector at the Ethical Standards Department of Victoria Police in 2006. He was involved in Operation Khadi.

Stuart Bateson

Mr Stuart Bateson was a Detective Sergeant in the Purana Taskforce in 2003. He was involved in the arrests of Mr McGrath (a pseudonym) and Mr Andrews (a pseudonym) for the murder of Mr Michael Marshall. He dealt with Ms Gobbo in relation to Mr McGrath’s plea negotiations in 2004. During this time, Ms Gobbo had numerous discussions with Mr Bateson about assisting police and her safety concerns. Mr Bateson later dealt with Ms Gobbo in 2005 and 2006 in relation to Mr Thomas (a pseudonym), whom she represented after he was charged with the murders of Mr Jason Moran and Mr Pasquale Barbaro.

Charlie Bezzina

Mr Charlie Bezzina was a Detective Senior Sergeant at the Homicide Squad at Victoria Police between 1996 and 2007. He led the investigation into the murders of Mr Terrence (Terry) Hodson and his wife Mrs Christine Hodson. As part of the investigation, he interviewed Ms Gobbo as a potential witness about her knowledge of the murders.

John (Jack) Blayney

Mr Jack Blayney, APM was a Detective Senior Sergeant in the Covert Investigation Unit of Victoria Police at the time of Ms Gobbo’s first registration as a human source in 1995. He was involved in the decision to cancel an operation that used Ms Gobbo. From 2004, Mr Blayney was a Detective Superintendent in the Crime Department and in 2006, he sat on the Rewards Committee that approved the withdrawal of Ms Gobbo’s speeding fines, along with Mr Simon Overland and Mr Dannye Moloney.

Boris Buick

Mr Boris Buick was a Detective Senior Constable in Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce in 2003. He had dealings with Ms Gobbo during this time, when she was representing Mr McGrath (a pseudonym), and later Mr Thomas (a pseudonym). In 2011, Mr Buick dealt with Ms Gobbo again, when she was a prosecution witness in relation to charges against Mr Paul Dale brought by the Australian Crime Commission.

Stephen Campbell

Mr Stephen Campbell met Ms Gobbo in 1999, when he was a Detective Senior Constable of Victoria Police and the informant in a matter in which Ms Gobbo was acting for the accused person. They commenced a casual intimate relationship that continued sporadically over several years. In 2003, Mr Campbell was charged with drug-related offences.

Paul Dale

Mr Paul Dale was a Detective Sergeant in Victoria Police’s Major Drug Investigation Division from 2002 until he resigned from Victoria Police in 2005. He was alleged to be involved in the 2003 burglary of a house in Dublin Street, Oakleigh with Mr Terry Hodson, and in the 2004 murders of Mr Hodson and his wife, Mrs Christine Hodson. Mr Dale alleges he sought legal advice from Ms Gobbo as well as associating with her socially. In 2003 or 2004, Mr Dale had a brief intimate relationship with Ms Gobbo. Ms Gobbo was to be a witness in the trials against Mr Dale in 2009 and 2010.

Cameron Davey

Mr Cameron Davey was a Detective Senior Constable in the Homicide Squad of Victoria Police between 2002 and 2007. He was involved in the investigation of the murders of Mr Terry Hodson and Mrs Christine Hodson. In 2004, he and Mr Charlie Bezzina interviewed Ms Gobbo about her knowledge of the murders. He was later seconded to the Petra Taskforce. Mr Sol Solomon and Mr Davey interviewed Ms Gobbo in relation to that investigation.

Peter De Santo

Mr Peter De Santo was a Detective Inspector in the Ethical Standards Department involved in Victoria Police’s Ceja Taskforce in 2002. Between 2002 and 2003, while Ms Gobbo was representing Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel, she spoke to Mr De Santo a number of times in relation to allegations that officers investigating Mr Mokbel and others had engaged in police corruption. Mr De Santo was also involved in the Dublin Street, Oakleigh burglary investigation in 2003.

Dale Flynn

Mr Dale Flynn was a Detective Sergeant at Victoria Police’s Major Drug Investigation Division before moving to the Purana Taskforce, first as a Detective Sergeant and then a Detective Senior Sergeant. Between 2002 and 2008, he was involved in investigations that received information provided by Ms Gobbo, particularly Operation Posse.

Andrew (Murray) Gregor

Mr Murray Gregor was a Detective Senior Sergeant in Victoria Police’s Ethical Standards Department between 2001 and 2004. In 2003, he was involved in the Dublin Street, Oakleigh burglary investigation. He spoke to Mr Terry Hodson about cooperating with police in their investigations of then Victoria Police officers Mr David Miechel and Mr Paul Dale.

Mark Hatt

Mr Mark Hatt was a Detective Senior Constable in Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce between 2003 and 2004, and between 2006 and 2010. He was involved in a number of investigations that dealt with Ms Gobbo, both in her capacity as a barrister representing accused persons and as a human source.

Paul Hollowood

Mr Paul Hollowood was a Detective Superintendent in the Crime Department of Victoria Police between 2004 and 2011. From 2008 until 2011, he was Tasking Coordination Manager in the Crime Department, which involved him receiving regular briefings about major investigations, including the Purana and Petra Taskforces.

Ronald (Ron) Iddles

Mr Ron Iddles, OAM, APM was a Detective Senior Sergeant in Victoria Police’s Homicide Squad in 1989 and between 1994 and 2014. He was seconded to the Briars Taskforce between 2007 and 2008. He was also involved in the Taskforce in 2009, when he travelled to Bali with Mr Steve Waddell to obtain a statement from Ms Gobbo about her knowledge of the murder of Mr Shane Chartres-Abbott, and information about then Victoria Police officer Mr David Waters and his alleged involvement in the murder.

Officer Kruger (a pseudonym)

Officer Kruger had contact with Ms Gobbo between 1997 and 1999 when he was an officer in Victoria Police’s Drug Squad. Ms Gobbo was representing a number of accused persons being investigated by Mr Kruger. He introduced her to members of the Asset Recovery Squad after she made allegations that her employer, Solicitor 1 (a pseudonym), was misusing his trust fund.

Christopher Lim

Mr Christopher Lim was an officer in Victoria Police’s Drug Squad in 1998. He and Officer Kruger (a pseudonym) met with Ms Gobbo several times regarding her allegations about Solicitor 1 (a pseudonym).

Steve Mansell

Mr Steve Mansell was a Detective Sergeant in Victoria Police’s Major Drug Investigation Division in 2005. In 2005, he and Mr Paul Rowe were involved in discussions with Ms Gobbo, during which she expressed a willingness to provide information to Victoria Police. These conversations resulted in her being referred to the Source Development Unit.

Findlay (Fin) McRae

Since 2006, Mr Fin McRae has been the Executive Director of Legal Services at Victoria Police. In 2009, he was involved in negotiations with Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police about her entry into witness protection. In 2010, he dealt with the settlement of Ms Gobbo’s civil litigation against Victoria Police.

In late 2011, Mr McRae was provided with the ‘Maguire advice’ that led to the Comrie Review, and between 2012 and 2014, he held discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions about the steps Victoria Police was taking to identify if any prosecutions may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source. As the Executive Director of Legal Services, he was involved in the court proceedings in which Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police sought to prevent the Director of Public Prosecutions from disclosing Ms Gobbo’s identity to several individuals.

David Miechel

Mr David Miechel was a Detective Senior Constable in the Victoria Police Drug Squad. In 2003, Mr Miechel was arrested alongside Mr Terry Hodson for the burglary of a house in Dublin Street, Oakleigh that was believed to contain large amounts of cash and drugs. At the time, Mr Hodson was a human source for Victoria Police and Mr Miechel was his handler. Mr Miechel was later convicted for the Dublin Street burglary and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 12 years.

Dannye Moloney

Mr Dannye Moloney, APM was a Superintendent and Acting Commander of Victoria Police’s Ceja Taskforce between 2001 and 2006. He also held the role of Commander, Intelligence and Covert Support. He was a member of the Human Source Management Project Steering Committee in 2004, which oversaw the Dedicated Source Unit Pilot Project. After the completion of the pilot, this unit went on to manage Ms Gobbo after she was registered as a human source. In 2006, he sat on the Rewards Committee that approved the withdrawal of Ms Gobbo’s speeding fines, along with Mr Simon Overland and Mr Jack Blayney. In 2008, after taking up the role of Assistant Commissioner, Crime, Mr Moloney was a member of the Petra Taskforce Board of Management. In 2009, he was a member of the Briars Taskforce Board of Management.

Paul Mullett

Mr Paul Mullett, APM was a Victoria Police officer from 1974 to 1992 and Secretary of The Police Association from 1998 to 2009. He was alleged to have been involved in leaking confidential information regarding the Briars Taskforce, alongside Mr Noel Ashby. In 2008, he was charged with offences that were ultimately resolved by a combination of discharge, discontinuance and acquittal.

James (Jim) O’Brien

Mr Jim O’Brien was a Detective Senior Sergeant at Victoria Police’s Major Drug Investigation Division in 2005. He referred Ms Gobbo to the Source Development Unit after she expressed interest in providing information to police. He then became the Officer in Charge of the Purana Taskforce. In this role, he managed a number of investigations, particularly Operation Posse, which utilised information provided by Ms Gobbo. He was later appointed as the Acting Detective Inspector of the Purana Taskforce and promoted to Detective Inspector of the Taskforce in 2007.

Shane O’Connell

Mr Shane O’Connell was transferred from Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce to its Petra Taskforce in 2007. He soon assumed the role of Acting Inspector of the Petra Taskforce due to the departure of Mr Gavan Ryan. He was involved in discussions with Ms Gobbo about her assisting the Taskforce by providing a statement, and later about her role as a witness in the prosecution of Mr Paul Dale.

Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope

Mr Jeff Pope was a Detective Senior Constable in Victoria Police’s Asset Recovery Squad between 1999 and 2000. He was introduced to Ms Gobbo by officers of the Drug Squad after she made money laundering allegations against her employer. He later registered her as a human source in 1999 (her second registration) due to the information she provided against her employer. Mr Pope left Victoria Police in 2004 but re-joined in 2009, after being appointed Assistant Commissioner, Intelligence and Covert Support. He was involved in drafting the terms of reference for the Comrie Review and in the decision to close the Source Development Unit in 2013.

Paul Rowe

Mr Paul Rowe was a Detective Senior Constable in Victoria Police’s Major Drug Investigation Division in 2005. Mr Rowe and Mr Steve Mansell had conversations with Ms Gobbo in 2005, during which she showed a willingness to provide information to Victoria Police. He was involved in her introduction to the Source Development Unit, which went on to manage her as a human source. He then moved to the Purana Taskforce, where he was involved in investigations that dealt with Ms Gobbo.

Gavan Ryan

Mr Gavan Ryan was a Detective Senior Sergeant in Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce. In 2005, he was promoted to Detective Inspector at the Major Drug Investigation Division. Ms Gobbo gave information to investigations in which Mr Ryan was involved. In 2007, he was appointed to lead the Petra Taskforce, and in the same year he attended the Office of Police Integrity examinations of Ms Gobbo by the Honourable Gerald Edward (Tony) Fitzgerald, AC, QC. Mr Ryan left Victoria Police in 2008 to join the Australian Federal Police.

Solon (Sol) Solomon

Mr Sol Solomon was a Detective Sergeant in Victoria Police’s Homicide Squad. In 2007, he was seconded to the Petra Taskforce. He and Mr Cameron Davey interviewed Ms Gobbo in relation to the Petra Taskforce investigation.

Wayne Strawhorn

Mr Wayne Strawhorn was a Detective Senior Sergeant in Victoria Police’s Drug Squad in 1998. He was involved in investigations in which Ms Gobbo was acting for several accused persons, including Person 2 (a pseudonym). Ms Gobbo later made allegations to him regarding her former employer. Mr Strawhorn’s interactions with Ms Gobbo overlapped with her representation of Mr Dragan Arnautovic between 1997 and 1999. Mr Strawhorn was later convicted and imprisoned for drug offences.

Philip Swindells

Mr Philip Swindells was a Detective Senior Sergeant in charge of gangland murder investigations at Purana Taskforce between 2003 and 2005 and was involved in murder investigations involving Mr McGrath (a pseudonym) as a suspect who was represented by Ms Gobbo. In 2003, Mr Swindells had a conversation with Ms Gobbo about her safety concerns. He later became a Detective Inspector at the Ethical Standards Department, during which time he was involved in Operation Khadi.

Stephen (Steve) Waddell

Mr Steve Waddell was an Inspector in Victoria Police’s Ethical Standards Department in 2006. In early 2007, he was seconded to the Briars Taskforce during its first phase of operations. After it was reconvened in 2009, he returned to the Taskforce. In 2009, he travelled with Mr Ron Iddles to Bali to take a statement from Ms Gobbo.

David Waters

Mr David Waters was a former Victoria Police officer who was a person of interest in the murder of Mr Shane Chartres-Abbott. Ms Gobbo was linked to Mr Waters through her friendship with Mr Stephen Campbell.

People involved in inquiries into the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source

Neil Comrie

Mr Neil Comrie AO, APM was Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police between 1993 and 2001. In 2012, Mr Comrie conducted a confidential Victoria Police review titled Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Comrie Review). This review examined Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and the policies and practices relevant to her management between 2005 and 2009.

John Champion

The Honourable Justice John Champion, SC was the Director of Public Prosecutions between 2011 and 2017. In 2016, Mr Champion finalised a report titled Report of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Champion Report). This report considered whether the prosecution of individuals named in the Kellam Report resulted in miscarriages of justice. Mr Champion concluded he had a duty to disclose this possibility to the affected individuals.

Murray Kellam

The Honourable Murray Kellam, AO, QC is a former Justice of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Between 2014 and 2015, Mr Kellam led an inquiry on behalf of the Independent Broad-based Anti‑corruption Commission into Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source between 2005 and 2009. His report, titled Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Kellam Report), identified nine individuals who were convicted of serious criminal offences and whose cases may have been affected by Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

Clients and other associates of Ms Gobbo

Mr Agrum (a pseudonym)

Mr Agrum was an associate of Mr Cooper (a pseudonym). Ms Gobbo appeared for Mr Agrum after he was arrested in 2006 alongside Mr Cooper. He was convicted in relation to drug trafficking offences and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years and six months.

Mr Andrews (a pseudonym)

Mr Andrews was an associate of Mr Carl Williams and Mr McGrath (a pseudonym). He pleaded guilty to the murders of Mr Michael Marshall, Mr Jason Moran and Mr Pasquale Barbaro. He later assisted police by making statements against criminal associates. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 23 years.

Dragan Arnautovic

Mr Dragan Arnautovic was a former client of Ms Gobbo in the late 1990s who was convicted of heroin trafficking. In 1999, he was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine years.

Mr Bickley (a pseudonym)

Mr Bickley was an associate of the Mokbels. Ms Gobbo represented him during his first and second arrests for drug-related offences in 2005 and 2006. Around the time of Mr Bickley’s first arrest and bail hearing, police officers Mr Paul Rowe and Mr Steve Mansell had conversations with Ms Gobbo that led to her introduction to the Source Development Unit.

Mr Bickley went on to assist police and made several statements against associates. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, which was wholly suspended.

Mr Cooper (a pseudonym)

Mr Cooper was an associate of the Mokbels who manufactured methamphetamine. He was both a client and a close friend of Ms Gobbo. Beginning in late 2005, Ms Gobbo provided information about him to her handlers, including the location of a laboratory he used to manufacture drugs.

After Mr Cooper was arrested in 2006, Ms Gobbo represented him. Mr Cooper provided statements to police and gave evidence in relation to various other targets of the Purana Taskforce. He was ultimately sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of seven years.

Alexandra Cvetanovski

Mrs Alexandra Cvetanovski was the wife of Mr Zlate Cvetanovski and a client of Ms Gobbo. She was sentenced to a two-year community based order for her role in her husband’s fraudulent loan applications.

Zlate Cvetanovski

Mr Zlate Cvetanovski was an associate of Mr Cooper (a pseudonym) and a client of Ms Gobbo. He was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for various offences relating to drug manufacturing and trafficking, fraudulent loan applications and credit card transactions.

In October 2020, some of Mr Cvetanovski’s convictions relating to drug offences were overturned by the Court of Appeal on the basis that a substantial miscarriage of justice occurred when key facts were not disclosed, such as various payments being made into the prison account of Mr Cooper as well as Ms Gobbo’s role in Mr Cooper’s decision to cooperate with police and implicate Mr Cvetanovski.

Mr Domenic (Mick) Gatto

Mr Mick Gatto headed the ‘Carlton Crew’ and was a target of the Purana Taskforce. He was the first person prosecuted by the Taskforce, after he killed Mr Andrew Veniamin in 2004. His murder trial resulted in a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of self defence in 2005. From 2006, Ms Gobbo and Mr Gatto began to socialise and in 2007, she began representing him in relation to his business matters.

Terrence (Terry) Hodson

Mr Terry Hodson was a registered human source for Victoria Police. In 2003, he was arrested along with his handler, then Detective Senior Constable David Miechel, in relation to the burglary of a house in Dublin Street, Oakleigh. Mr Hodson later agreed to cooperate with investigators from the Ethical Standards Department, leading to Mr Miechel and his Sergeant, Mr Paul Dale, being arrested and charged in relation to the burglary. In 2004, before he could give evidence, Mr Hodson and his wife were murdered in their home.

Christine Hodson

Mrs Christine Hodson was the wife of Mr Terry Hodson. The pair were murdered in their home in 2004.

Andrew Hodson

Mr Andrew Hodson is the son of Mr Terry Hodson and Mrs Christine Hodson. He is also a former client of Ms Gobbo.

Mr McGrath (a pseudonym)

Mr McGrath was an associate of Mr Carl Williams. Ms Gobbo represented him after he was arrested for the murder of Mr Michael Marshall. He later assisted police and made statements against his associates. He was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 10 years.

Mr Faruk Orman

Mr Faruk Orman was a member of Mr Mick Gatto’s ‘Carlton Crew’. In 2009, Mr Orman was convicted of the murder of Mr Victor Peirce and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14 years. In 2019, Mr Orman’s conviction was overturned by the court on the basis that a substantial miscarriage of justice occurred when Ms Gobbo actively encouraged her client, Mr Thomas (a pseudonym), to give evidence in the murder trial against Mr Orman at a time when she was also representing Mr Orman.

Mr Thomas (a pseudonym)

Mr Thomas was an associate of Mr Tony Mokbel and Mr Carl Williams. Ms Gobbo began representing him in 2002. This representation continued when he was arrested and charged with the murders of Mr Pasquale Barbaro and Mr Jason Moran. Mr Thomas went on to make statements against associates, most notably against Mr Faruk Orman. He was sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 years.

Carl Williams

Mr Carl Williams was a key figure in the gangland wars. Ms Gobbo regularly represented him between 2003 and 2005 and continued to advise him on an informal basis between 2006 and 2007. She also socialised with him. Ms Gobbo also provided information to her handlers about Mr Williams. In 2006, on becoming aware that Ms Gobbo proposed to act for one of his co-accused in relation to a murder trial, Mr Williams complained to the Supreme Court judge hearing his murder trial, the Victorian Bar Ethics Committee and the Law Institute of Victoria about her conflicted position.

In 2006 and 2007, Mr Williams was convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 35 years. In early 2007, Mr Williams made a statement to the Petra Taskforce implicating Mr Paul Dale in the murders of Mr Terry Hodson and Mrs Christine Hodson, and alleging that Ms Gobbo acted as a conduit between himself and Mr Dale. He was murdered in prison in 2010.

The Mokbels

Antonios (Tony) Mokbel

Mr Tony Mokbel was a high-profile drug trafficker who headed one of the major drug cartels involved in the gangland wars. He is the third eldest sibling of the Mokbel family. Mr Mokbel was a key target of Victoria Police during the early 2000s. Ms Gobbo regularly represented him and his associates in criminal proceedings. She also socialised with him and his associates regularly.

In 2006, while on trial in relation to drug offences, Mr Mokbel fled to Greece. He returned to Australia in 2008 after being extradited. In 2012, Mr Mokbel was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 22 years.

Horty Mokbel

Mr Horty Mokbel is the second eldest of the five Mokbel children and was a client of Ms Gobbo. He was convicted of charges relating to possessing equipment and substances with the intention of drug trafficking. In 2010, he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years.

Kabalan Mokbel

Mr Kabalan Mokbel is the eldest of the five Mokbel children and was a client of Ms Gobbo. He was convicted of drug trafficking. In 2007, he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

Milad Mokbel

Mr Milad Mokbel was the youngest of the five Mokbel children and a client of Ms Gobbo. He was convicted of various offences, including drug trafficking and dealing with proceeds of crime. Mr Mokbel was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight years. He died in 2020.

Renate Mokbel

Ms Renate Mokbel is the widow of Mr Milad Mokbel. She was also a client of Ms Gobbo. She was convicted of perjury charges relating to her acting as surety for her brother-in law, Mr Tony Mokbel. In 2008, she was sentenced to a partially suspended term of imprisonment of two years and nine months.

Zaharoula Mokbel

Ms Zaharoula Mokbel is the wife of Mr Horty Mokbel and was a client of Ms Gobbo. She was convicted of offending related to falsified mortgage loan applications. In 2009, she was sentenced to a suspended term of imprisonment of two years and nine months.

The ‘Tomato Tins’ drug-trafficking syndicate

Salvatore Agresta

Mr Salvatore Agresta was convicted for his role as a ‘foot soldier’, intermediary and trafficker in the drug-trafficking syndicate headed by Mr Pasquale Barbaro, which imported 15 million ecstasy pills into Melbourne. He was also a client of Ms Gobbo. He was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment across two separate trials. In 2020, Mr Agresta launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.

Pasquale Barbaro

Mr Pasquale Barbaro was the head of the Tomato Tins syndicate and a client of Ms Gobbo. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 30 years. In 2020, he launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.

A different individual also known as Mr Pasquale Barbaro was murdered alongside Mr Jason Moran.

Carmelo Falanga

Mr Carmelo Falanga was convicted over his role as the co-financier and key organiser of the Tomato Tins syndicate. Mr Falanga was sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 16 years and six months. In 2020, he launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.

John Higgs

Mr John Higgs was a veteran drug trafficker and a close associate of Mr Rob Karam. Convicted over his role in the Tomato Tins syndicate, Mr Higgs was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14 years.

Rabie (Rob) Karam

Mr Rob Karam was an associate of the Mokbels and a client of Ms Gobbo. He was sentenced to 37 years’ imprisonment for drug offences, with a non-parole period of 22 years. In 2020, he launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.

Francesco Madafferi

Mr Francesco Madafferi was convicted for his ‘high-level’ role in the distribution chain of the Tomato Tins syndicate. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of seven years. In 2020, he launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.

Sharon Ropa

Ms Sharon Ropa was the girlfriend of Mr Pasquale Barbaro. She was convicted over her role in the Tomato Tins syndicate. She was sentenced to nine years and six months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of seven years.

Jan Visser

Mr Jan Visser was long-time associate of Mr Pasquale Barbaro. He was convicted over his role as a ‘foot soldier’ and ‘fixer’ in the Tomato Tins syndicate. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight years. In 2019, he launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.

Saverio Zirilli

Mr Saverio Zirilli is the cousin of Mr Pasquale Barbaro and was a client of Ms Gobbo. He was convicted over his role as Mr Barbaro’s ‘right-hand man’ in the Tomato Tins syndicate. Mr Zirilli was sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 18 years. In 2020, he launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.


Chapter 1

Establishment of the Royal Commission

Introduction

On 3 December 2018, the Victorian Government announced that it would establish a royal commission to conduct an independent inquiry into Victoria Police’s recruitment and management of human sources (also known as police ‘informants’ or ‘informers’) subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege. The announcement followed the public release of a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia regarding Victoria Police’s use of former criminal defence barrister Ms Nicola Gobbo as a human source.

The High Court decision was the culmination of extensive litigation between the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Ms Gobbo and the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) between 2016 and 2018. The court proceedings were initiated in the Supreme Court of Victoria by the Chief Commissioner in an attempt to prevent the DPP from disclosing to seven potentially affected individuals that their lawyer Ms Gobbo, in possible breach of her professional obligations and duties, had covertly informed on them to Victoria Police.1

In its 2018 decision, the High Court described Ms Gobbo’s actions as ‘fundamental and appalling breaches’ of her obligations to her clients and her duties to the court.2 Similarly, the High Court considered that Victoria Police was ‘guilty of reprehensible conduct’ by knowingly encouraging Ms Gobbo to act as a human source; and that, by doing so, Victoria Police was involved in ‘sanctioning atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer’ to act faithfully and in accordance with the law.3

A person charged with a criminal offence is entitled to a fair hearing, independent legal advice and representation, and a lawyer who acts in their best interests.4 The effective operation of the criminal justice system requires its participants, including lawyers and the police, to act with integrity to uphold the rights and freedoms of individuals, and fairly apply the rule of law. The failure to do so can undermine public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.

In the Supreme Court decision related to the DPP’s proposed disclosure of information to the seven individuals, Justice Ginnane explained:

… a fundamental feature of our community is that all persons, whatever crime they have committed, are entitled to independent legal advice and counsel and an opportunity for a fair trial if they contest the charges or to be properly represented if they plead guilty. There is a strong public interest in ensuring that a lawyer’s breach of duty and obligations do not undermine the fairness of a trial, or the negotiation of a plea of guilty. The knowledge of [Ms Gobbo’s] role might have assisted the seven persons in a criminal trial if they had pleaded not guilty or in a plea.5

Due to the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source by Victoria Police, people who were represented by her may seek to have their convictions or sentences overturned. For example, during the Commission’s inquiry, the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria set aside Mr Faruk Orman’s 2009 conviction for murder and acquitted him. The Court determined that Ms Gobbo’s actions in the case had subverted Mr Orman’s right to a fair trial, and that this amounted to a substantial miscarriage of justice.6

This chapter outlines the key events that led to the establishment of the Commission, including:

  • the formal reviews into the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source
  • the proceedings between the Chief Commissioner, Ms Gobbo and the DPP
  • the announcement of the Commission
  • the proceedings to protect the identity of Ms Gobbo.

The chapter also outlines the structure of this final report.

The use of human sources

A human source is commonly understood to be a person who covertly supplies information about crime or people involved in criminal activity to police or other law enforcement agencies.7

Victoria Police describes a human source as a person who:

  • volunteers or provides information on a confidential basis to Victoria Police to assist with criminal investigations
  • has an expectation that their identity will remain confidential
  • is registered as a human source.8

Human sources are generally distinguishable from witnesses, victims of crime, and members of the community who volunteer information to police about events they have seen or heard in the course of their day-to-day activities.

Protecting the identity of human sources

Protecting the identity of human sources is paramount. In a statement to the Commission, then Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, APM, Intelligence and Covert Support Command, explained:

The ability of Victoria Police to recruit and use human sources is inherently dependent on potential human source[s] believing that their identity will be kept confidential and that their personal safety will be of paramount importance to Victoria Police and will be protected. When the identity of a human source is compromised there are many examples of such a compromise leading to the death or serious injury of the human source. For this reason, the confidentiality of human sources is paramount.9

It is commonly accepted that it is in the public interest to maintain the anonymity of human sources, both to avoid harm to them should their informing become known to others; and to maintain public confidence in the police’s ability to protect human sources and thus ensure that people remain willing to provide information to police.10 For these reasons, a person accused of a crime will typically not learn the identity of a human source who may have assisted police in their criminal investigation.11

Maintaining the confidentiality of a human source, however, needs to be balanced against the right of an accused person to be informed of the evidence relied upon to bring a criminal charge against them, particularly evidence that would assist them to defend their case.12

A person charged with a criminal offence is entitled to be ‘informed promptly and in detail of the nature and reason for the charge’.13 The common law imposes obligations on prosecutors to fully disclose to an accused person any material relevant to the court proceedings.14 When police or prosecutors wish to withhold relevant evidence from an accused person in order to maintain the confidentiality of a human source, they may claim what is known as ‘public interest immunity’ (PII).

PII is a rule of evidence that is used in court proceedings. The rule provides that relevant evidence is not to be disclosed in court proceedings where disclosure would damage the public interest, and the need to avoid the damage outweighs the accused person’s right to have all of the relevant evidence made available to them.15

Determining PII claims is a balancing exercise for the courts, which must consider whether the public interest in withholding disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information in accordance with the proper administration of justice.

The use of human source information in the criminal justice system and the rules surrounding the disclosure of such information is discussed in Chapter 14.

The use of Ms Gobbo as a human source

At various times from 1993 and until at least until 2010, Ms Gobbo provided information to Victoria Police about her clients, their associates and other individuals, some of whom were involved in Melbourne’s so-called ‘gangland wars’. During that period, Ms Gobbo was registered as a human source on three occasions, the third time between 2005 and 2009 when she provided information to Victoria Police about many people involved in organised crime, including her clients.

In her evidence to the Supreme Court in the proceedings relating to the DPP’s intended disclosure of her status as a human source, Ms Gobbo estimated that 386 people had been arrested and charged due to the information she had provided to Victoria Police.16 She described a range of motivations that led to her becoming a human source in 2005, including her fear of being charged as an accessory to crimes she was aware of and her wish to rid herself of her clients; in particular, the ‘Mokbel cartel’.17

A chronology of key events related to Ms Gobbo’s interactions with Victoria Police and subsequent events leading to the establishment of the Commission is set out in Chapter 6.

Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a human source is discussed in Chapter 7.

Reviews into the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source

In late 2008, Ms Gobbo assisted Victoria Police to obtain evidence against former Victoria Police officer Mr Paul Dale. Her evidence was used in support of charges that were laid against Mr Dale and Mr Rodney Collins for the murders of Mr Terrence (Terry) Hodson and his wife, Mrs Christine Hodson.18

The proceedings against Mr Dale, and the subsequent proceedings brought against him in 2011 relating to alleged offences arising from evidence he gave to the Australian Crime Commission, triggered events that led to three external reviews into the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source between 2005 and 2009.19 These reviews were not public and did not examine Ms Gobbo’s earlier registrations as a human source because her previous use was not commonly known within Victorian Police until after the Commission was established.

The three reviews are outlined in Figure 1.1 and discussed below.

Figure 1.1: External reviews into the use of Ms Nicola Gobbo as a human source, 2012–16 20

Figure 1.1- External reviews into the use of Ms Nicola Gobbo as a human source, 2012–16

Comrie Review

The first of the confidential external reviews came about after barrister Mr Gerard Maguire provided advice to Victoria Police in October 2011 regarding the disclosure of documents sought by Mr Dale. These documents could have revealed Ms Gobbo’s wider use as a human source by Victoria Police.21

In his advice to Victoria Police, Mr Maguire raised the potential for Ms Gobbo’s clients to seek to challenge their convictions on the basis that the convictions were improperly obtained.22 He recommended that the issues he had identified in his legal advice be raised with Victoria Police senior management.23 This prompted Victoria Police to commission a review into the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

On 19 March 2012, Victoria Police engaged former Chief Commissioner Neil Comrie, AO, APM to undertake this review.24 Mr Comrie’s review focused on the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and Victoria Police’s policies, control measures and practices relevant to her management between 2005 and 2009.25 He also considered internal changes to human source policies and procedures since the registration of Ms Gobbo in 2005.26

On 30 July 2012, Mr Comrie produced his report entitled Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Comrie Review), in which he made 27 recommendations, including changes to Victoria Police’s human source policies and practices.27 Mr Comrie also endorsed the findings and recommendations of an internal Victoria Police audit of human source management practices, which took place in 2010.28

Following the completion of the Comrie Review, Victoria Police commenced two operations in relation to its use of Ms Gobbo as a human source:

  • Operation Loricated commenced in 2013 as a result of a recommendation of the Comrie Review.29 It was tasked to reconstruct a full electronic file of Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and identify issues regarding her use.30
  • Operation Bendigo commenced in 2014 to coordinate and oversee matters connected to Ms Gobbo, including her protection and management. The operation also established an investigation group to examine five specific cases relating to the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, in order to identify any instances of legal conflict that might have resulted in a miscarriage of justice.31

The Comrie Review and the implementation of its recommendations are discussed in Chapter 11.

Kellam Report

On 31 March 2014, the Herald Sun published an article entitled ‘Underworld Lawyer a Secret Police Informer’.32 Shortly thereafter, on 10 April 2014, Victoria Police made a notification to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) regarding the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.33

IBAC appointed the Honourable Murray Kellam, AO, QC to examine:

  • the conduct of current and former Victoria Police officers identified in the Comrie Review in relation to the management of Ms Gobbo as a human source
  • Victoria Police’s human source management policies, processes and procedures during the period between September 2005 and January 2009 when Ms Gobbo was a registered human source.34

On 6 February 2015, Mr Kellam produced a confidential report entitled Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Kellam Report).35 In the report, Mr Kellam stated that he was unable to conclude, on the evidence before him, that Victoria Police officers intended to pervert the course of justice. He did conclude, however, that the actions of Ms Gobbo’s police handlers were improper and would—if exposed—likely bring Victoria Police into disrepute and diminish public confidence in it.36 Mr Kellam considered that:

… conduct by individual police officers resulted not from any personal intention to act with impropriety on their part, but from what I consider to be behaviour constituting negligence of a high order on the part of those responsible for their supervision, guidance, instruction and management in the particular prevailing circumstances of obvious attendant risk.37

Mr Kellam found that there had been a serious systemic failure by Victoria Police when managing Ms Gobbo, which put her personal safety at risk.38 Evidence provided to the inquiry indicated that, notwithstanding the need to keep Ms Gobbo’s identity as a human source confidential and confined to a small number of individuals, by 2009 at least 150 Victoria Police officers were aware that she was a human source.39

The Kellam Report also set out examples of information provided by Ms Gobbo to Victoria Police in the cases of nine individuals who had received, or possibly received, legal assistance from Ms Gobbo while she was informing on them to Victoria Police. All nine had been convicted of serious criminal offences.

Mr Kellam made 16 recommendations in his report, including recommendations to improve Victoria Police’s human source management policies. He also recommended that the Chief Commissioner provide a copy of the report and any relevant material to the DPP, so he could consider whether any prosecutions that may have been obtained in breach of legal professional privilege or confidentiality had resulted in a miscarriage of justice due to the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.40

As part of its inquiry, the Commission was required to inquire into and report on whether Victoria Police’s current human source practices comply with the recommendations of the Kellam Report. This is discussed in Chapter 11.

Champion Report

As recommended by Mr Kellam, the Chief Commissioner provided a copy of the Kellam Report to the then DPP, Mr John Champion, SC, so he could consider whether any relevant prosecutions may have been obtained in breach of legal professional privilege or confidentiality and resulted in miscarriages of justice.41

On 5 February 2016, the DPP produced a confidential report entitled Report of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Champion Report).42 He considered the cases of the nine individuals identified in the Kellam Report who were charged and prosecuted in Victoria.43The conclusions of the Champion Report regarding the nine cases are summarised in Figure 1.2.

Figure 1.2: Conclusions of the Champion Report 44
Figure 1.2: Conclusions of the Champion Report
From the material available to him, the DPP was unable to conclude that miscarriages of justice had occurred but could not exclude that possibility in the six cases where a lawyer–client relationship existed.45 He believed it was possible that miscarriages of justice had occurred as:
  • it was highly likely that Ms Gobbo had acted improperly in informing against her own clients
  • it was highly likely that she had breached legal professional privilege and the confidence that exists between a lawyer and their client on multiple occasions
  • almost certainly, her actions amounted to serious conflicts of interest.46

The DPP considered that:

… the case-study individuals must be informed of the peculiar and unique role [Ms Gobbo] played in the investigation of their cases. That role was so unique that I cannot accept that had individuals known of that role, and the extent of the information supplied to police that was relevant to their roles, and against their interests, that arguments would not have been made to courts for the exclusion of unfairly obtained evidence.47

The DPP concluded that he was obliged to disclose the possibility of miscarriages of justice having occurred to six of the nine individuals identified in the Kellam Report, all of whom had been represented by Ms Gobbo and had been prosecuted by the DPP.48

In recommending that disclosure be made to the six individuals, the DPP was mindful of Ms Gobbo’s safety once disclosure had occurred. Accordingly, he considered that it was necessary for the Attorney-General of Victoria, the then Department of Justice and Regulation, and Victoria Police to discuss arrangements that could be put in place in relation to the safety of Ms Gobbo.49

Court proceedings against the Director of Public Prosecutions

Following the completion of his report, the DPP wrote to then Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, AM, APM enclosing a copy of the draft disclosure letter he intended to send to six of the individuals named in the Kellam Report and one other individual whom the DPP had later identified as being potentially affected.50

The DPP’s draft letter would disclose to the seven individuals that their lawyer, in possible breach of legal professional privilege and/or confidentiality, had provided information to Victoria Police about them while acting as a human source.51 To four of the seven individuals, the draft letter would also disclose that the lawyer had provided information to Victoria Police about other people for whom the lawyer had also acted, and that those people had made statements against them.52

The draft letter did not name Ms Gobbo as a human source, but the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo considered the disclosures would have the effect of revealing her identity.53

When Ms Gobbo was registered as a human source in 2005, Victoria Police assured her that her identity as a human source would never be revealed.54 In order to protect her identity, on 10 June 2016, the Chief Commissioner filed proceedings in the Supreme Court in an attempt to prevent the DPP from making his proposed disclosures. This was the start of extensive litigation between the Chief Commissioner, Ms Gobbo and the DPP, which continued until 2018 as outlined in Figure 1.3 below.

Victoria Police considered that the Supreme Court proceedings were necessary and appropriate. It was of the view that the disclosures proposed by the DPP, which would lead to Ms Gobbo being identified, would have ‘potentially catastrophic consequences for her safety and for the safety of her family’.55 The Supreme Court also confirmed that where a human source opposes the release of information, a prosecutor should leave the issue of the applicability of a PII claim to the Court to decide.56

Figure 1.3: Court proceedings between the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Ms Nicola Gobbo and the Director of Public Prosecutions, 2016–18
2016

March: The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) provides the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police with a draft disclosure letter he proposes to send to seven potentially affected individuals.

June: The Chief Commissioner files proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria to prevent the DPP from making the disclosures to the seven individuals.

November: Ms Nicola Gobbo joins as a party to the Chief Commissioner’s proceeding and commences a separate proceeding to prevent the DPP from making the disclosures. Both proceedings are heard together by Justice Ginnane.

2017

June: The Supreme Court decides there is no obligation of confidence owed to Ms Gobbo that would prevent the DPP from disclosing the information to the seven individuals, nor is the information subject to a claim of public interest immunity.

July: The Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo appeal the decisions to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

November: The Court of Appeal dismisses the appeals. The earlier decisions of the Supreme Court are upheld.

2018

May: The High Court of Australia grants the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo special leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision.

November: The High Court hands down its unanimous decision dismissing the appeals, thereby permitting the DPP to make his proposed disclosures.

December: The High Court releases its decision to the public (not identifying Ms Gobbo) and the Victorian Government announces the establishment of the Commission.

Decision of the Supreme Court

The Chief Commissioner applied to the Supreme Court to prevent the DPP disclosing information from the Kellam Report to the seven individuals. He considered that:

  • the information the DPP proposed to disclose was subject to PII because it might identify or endanger the life of the human source (Ms Gobbo)
  • the DPP should be prevented from sending his disclosure letters or disclosing information contained in those letters or the Kellam Report that would identify or endanger the life of Ms Gobbo, on the grounds of PII.57

Ms Gobbo supported the Chief Commissioner’s application. In November 2016, she filed her own proceeding against the DPP to prevent him from making the disclosures on the grounds that Victoria Police owed her an equitable obligation of confidence and the DPP was bound to preserve the confidentiality of her role as a human source.58

The Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo’s applications were heard together in a closed court. The seven individuals concerned were not notified that the proceedings had commenced and took no part in them.

The Court ordered that special counsel be appointed to act as amici curiae to assist the court by advancing arguments that were in the interests of the seven individuals, given that they were not aware of, nor legally represented in, those proceedings.59 The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission also intervened in the proceedings and made submissions related to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) and the interests of the seven individuals in a fair trial.60

After 18 days of hearings, Justice Ginnane handed down two decisions on 19 June 2017, dismissing both proceedings. He found that:

  • the DPP’s proposed disclosures were not subject to PII61
  • there was no obligation of confidence in the identity or role of Ms Gobbo as a human source that would prevent the DPP from making his proposed disclosures.62

Justice Ginnane noted that Victoria Police would endeavour to provide Ms Gobbo and her children with protection once the disclosures were made.63

Appeal proceedings

In July 2017, both the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo applied to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the Supreme Court decisions. The Chief Commissioner contended that the Supreme Court had erred in its findings about the degree of risk to Ms Gobbo should the DPP’s disclosures be made, and that Victoria Police could not protect Ms Gobbo or her children without her cooperation and agreement, which she refused to provide.64 Ms Gobbo also raised concerns regarding the risk to her safety and that of her children should the disclosures be made.65

On 21 November 2017, the Court of Appeal dismissed both appeals and upheld the earlier decisions of the Supreme Court.66

On 9 May 2018, the High Court granted the Chief Commissioner special leave to appeal.67 The Chief Commissioner’s grounds of appeal were, in effect, that the Court of Appeal had erred in its failure to appreciate the public interest in Victoria Police honouring its assurances to Ms Gobbo that her identity as a human source would not be disclosed.68

The High Court also granted Ms Gobbo special leave to appeal on the grounds that the Court of Appeal had erred by assuming that she would enter the Witness Protection Program, and by concluding that the public interest favoured the disclosures to the affected individuals, given the gravity of the risk to Ms Gobbo and her children should the disclosures be made.69

The High Court acknowledged the significant risk of harm to Ms Gobbo and her children should she not enter the Witness Protection Program, and Victoria Police’s responsibility for putting her safety at risk by encouraging her to inform on her clients.70 The Court determined, however, that those considerations did not detract from its conclusion—that it was essential to the public interest for the information to be disclosed to the affected individuals.71

The High Court stated:

… the maintenance of the integrity of the criminal justice system demands that the information be disclosed and that the propriety of each Convicted Person’s conviction be re-examined in light of the information. The public interest in preserving [Ms Gobbo’s] anonymity must be subordinated to the integrity of the criminal justice system.72

In a unanimous decision dated 5 November 2018, the seven members of the High Court revoked special leave to appeal.73 The High Court’s decision upheld the decisions of the lower courts, which permitted the DPP to make the disclosures.

The High Court ordered that any information that would reveal the proceedings or the identity of the relevant parties could not be published until 3 December 2018, to allow for appropriate security arrangements for Ms Gobbo to be made.74 The Court also ordered that information from the proceedings could not be published until 5 February 2019, although that date was later extended on the application of the Chief Commissioner to 1 March 2019, as discussed below.75

Announcement of the Commission

On 3 December 2018, the Victorian Government announced that it would establish a royal commission to independently inquire into Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.76 That announcement coincided with the public release of the court decisions, which had until then been kept confidential.

The Commission’s Letters Patent

The Commission was formally established by Letters Patent issued by the Governor of Victoria on 13 December 2018. The Honourable Margaret McMurdo, AC, former President of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Queensland, was appointed as Commissioner and Chairperson and Mr Malcolm Hyde, AO, APM, former Commissioner of South Australia Police, was appointed as Commissioner.

When the Victorian Government drafted the Letters Patent, wider publication of Ms Gobbo’s name or image was prohibited by a court order. The Letters Patent referred to her by the pseudonym ‘EF’, used in the court proceedings.

A royal commission’s terms of reference are specified in its Letters Patent and set out the purpose and scope of an inquiry. The Commission’s terms of reference required it to inquire into and report by 1 July 2019 on the number of, and extent to which, cases may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and the conduct of Victoria Police officers in managing Ms Gobbo as a human source. The terms of reference also required the Commission to inquire into and report by 1 December 2019 on:

  • the adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police’s processes for managing human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege (for example, lawyers)
  • the use of information obtained from such human sources in the criminal justice system
  • recommended measures to address systemic or other failures identified by the Commission.

The Commission’s reporting dates and its terms of reference were later amended, for reasons outlined below.

A copy of the Commission’s Letters Patent can be found at Appendix A.

Disclosures by Victoria Police

The confidential Comrie Review, the Kellam Report and Champion Report, and the extensive litigation that followed, which was not held in public, focused only on the period from Ms Gobbo’s registration as a human source on 16 September 2005 until her deregistration on 13 January 2009.77 Accordingly, the Commission’s terms of reference were prepared in December 2018 on the understanding that the inquiry would be directed at Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source during that specific period.

Following its establishment, the Commission received information regarding Victoria Police’s wider use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and the possible use of other legal practitioners or employees as human sources.

In January 2019, the Commission was told that Victoria Police:

  • had first registered Ms Gobbo as a human source in 1995 and that her first contact with Victoria Police was in 1993 when she was a law student, some 12 years earlier than the Commission had previously understood78
  • had registered Ms Gobbo as a human source for a second time in 199979
  • had conducted a review of its human source holdings and identified seven human source files that required an assessment to determine whether there had been ‘any possible breaches of legal professional privilege’.80

These disclosures had a significant impact on the work of the Commission and its reporting deadlines.

This increased span of inquiry—coupled with the greater volume of information to be examined by the Commission, a multitude of suppression orders in relation to the cases the Commission had to examine, and delays in the provision of information from Victoria Police—made it impossible to report on the first term of reference by 1 July 2019 and the other terms of reference by 1 December 2019.

Amendments to the Commission’s Letters Patent

The Victorian Government amended the Commission’s Letters Patent on 7 February 2019 to reflect some of the matters disclosed to the Commission by Victoria Police and the subsequent resignation of Mr Hyde as Commissioner.

The matters disclosed to the Commission did not cause a direct conflict of interest for Mr Hyde. In light of his past employment with Victoria Police during the extended period of time relevant to the Commission’s inquiry, and his professional associations with police officers likely to be examined, he resigned to avoid any potential adverse perceptions about the impartiality of the Commission.

The Victorian Government also amended the terms of reference to expand the scope of the inquiry. These amendments required the Commission to recommend measures that could be taken to address Victoria Police’s use of any other human sources who were subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege and who came to the Commission’s attention during the course of the inquiry.81

Due to the expansion of the terms of reference and the significant increase in the time period and body of material the Commission was required to examine, the Commission’s final reporting date was initially extended until 1 July 2020, with the Commission to provide an update on its progress by 1 July 2019. The Victorian Government also provided $20.5 million of funding to the Commission, in addition to its original funding allocation of $7.5 million.82

A copy of the amendments to the Commission’s Letters Patent can be found at Appendix B.

Proceedings to protect the identity of Ms Gobbo

When the Victorian Government amended the Commission’s Letters Patent in February 2019, Ms Gobbo’s name and image were still suppressed by an interim High Court order.

In January 2019, the Chief Commissioner initiated new proceedings in the High Court seeking a permanent order prohibiting the publication of the names and images of Ms Gobbo and her children.83

The DPP had by now sent the disclosure letters to the seven individuals who were the subject of the previous court proceedings, so the new proceedings were focused solely on ongoing issues around Ms Gobbo’s safety.84 Victoria Police considered that the wider publication of Ms Gobbo’s name and image would severely prejudice its ability to keep her and her children safe.85

The Commission successfully intervened in the High Court proceedings, and the Court permitted it to disclose Ms Gobbo’s name and image when exercising some of its powers under the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) (Inquiries Act).86

The High Court, however, extended the interim non-publication order preventing the publication of Ms Gobbo’s name or identity—which was due to lapse on 5 February 2019—to 1 March 2019, and deferred the decision about whether to make a permanent non-publication order to the Court of Appeal.87

Further Court of Appeal and High Court proceedings

In the Court of Appeal, both the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo sought permanent non-publication orders to prohibit the publication of Ms Gobbo’s name and image, and non-publication orders in relation to certain audio recordings of meetings between her and Victoria Police officers.88 Ms Gobbo also sought orders to prohibit the publication of some personal medical matters and the names and images of her children.89

The DPP, Ms Kerri Judd, QC and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions opposed the making of permanent orders to suppress Ms Gobbo’s name.90 The Commission intervened in the proceedings, together with some media outlets.

The Court of Appeal refused the applications of the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo.91 In its decision of 21 February 2019, the Court held that it was not satisfied that the making of permanent orders was necessary to protect the safety of Ms Gobbo or her children.92 The Court found that, while there was no doubt that her safety was at considerable risk, Ms Gobbo’s identity as a human source was already in the public domain and the Court noted the ease with which the community could find her name and image.93 The Court of Appeal was not persuaded that publication of Ms Gobbo’s name and image would materially increase the risk to her so as to necessitate a permanent non-publication order.94

Shortly thereafter, Ms Gobbo brought a new application to the High Court for orders to prohibit the publication of the names and images of her children.95 The Commission did not oppose the order sought.96 In his decision, Justice Nettle determined that it was necessary for the High Court to make this non-publication order.97

The High Court’s interim non-publication order lapsed on 1 March 2019, and Ms Gobbo’s name and image have been subsequently published in various media articles.

Progress report and extension of the Commission’s reporting timeline

To inform the community about the status of the inquiry, on 1 July 2019 the Commission produced a progress report on its first six months of work and its approach to the terms of reference.98

In May 2020, the Victorian Government further extended the Commission’s reporting date to 30 November 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges that arose during the inquiry. The Government also provided additional funding of $11.5 million.99

Structure of this final report

The Commission’s inquiry took place over a period of almost two years, alongside considerable developments in matters relevant to its work. Some of these developments were still in progress at the time of writing this final report. For example, several people whose cases may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source had lodged appeals with the courts to overturn their convictions, and Victoria Police had commenced several new initiatives related to human source management and disclosure practices, after implementing a new iteration of the Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources in May 2020.100

The matters detailed in this final report are current as at 30 October 2020.

The report is divided into four volumes and one supplementary final report summary. A brief overview of the structure of the four volumes is provided below.

Volume I: The Commission’s approach

Volume I of this report outlines the circumstances leading to the Commission’s establishment and details the importance of the inquiry and how it was conducted. It also provides background information including:

  • a list of relevant police operations and taskforces
  • a list of key people relevant to the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source
  • a chronology of the key events related to Ms Gobbo’s interactions with Victoria Police from 1993 to 2018.

This volume also outlines the Commission’s methodology and approach in respect of its terms of reference. It sets out how the Commission:

  • reviewed cases that may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, relevant to term of reference 1
  • examined the conduct of current and former Victoria Police officers, relevant to term of reference 2
  • defined and examined the term ‘legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege’, relevant to terms of reference 3, 4 and 5.

Volume II: The use of Ms Gobbo as a human source by Victoria Police

Volume II presents the Commission’s recommendations in relation to terms of reference 1 and 2. In this volume, the Commission:

  • describes how information obtained from Ms Gobbo was used by Victoria Police
  • identifies the number of cases that were potentially affected by Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source
  • presents its conclusions about the conduct of Ms Gobbo as a human source and the conduct of current and former Victoria Police officers
  • outlines some of the broader organisational conditions and factors within Victoria Police that contributed to the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

Volume III: The use of human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege

Volume III presents the Commission’s recommendations in relation to terms of reference 3 and 5. In this volume, the Commission examines:

  • Victoria Police’s use of any other human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege that came to the Commission’s attention during the inquiry
  • Victoria Police’s implementation of the Kellam Report recommendations
  • the adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police’s current processes for the management of human sources involving legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • opportunities for external oversight of Victoria Police’s management of human sources.

Volume IV: Disclosure, legal profession regulation and work beyond the Commission

Volume IV presents the Commission’s recommendations in relation to terms of reference 4 and 6. In this volume, the Commission examines:

  • the current use and disclosure of human source information in the criminal justice system from human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • aspects of legal profession regulation and opportunities to prevent and detect lawyers’ unethical conduct or misconduct.

In this volume, the Commission also outlines some of the challenges it faced during the inquiry, including the limitations of the powers of a royal commission under the Inquiries Act.

It also outlines the need for active oversight of and reporting on the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations, to ensure they are implemented in a timely way, in the manner in which the Commission intended.

Endnotes

1 The DPP’s draft letter to the seven potentially affected individuals did not name Ms Gobbo as a human source, though the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo contended in the court proceedings that the DPP’s letter could reveal Ms Gobbo’s identity: see AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [7] (Ginnane J).

2 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [10] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

3 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [10] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

4 The right to a fair hearing is a longstanding and fundamental principle of the criminal justice system, now enshrined in the Charter: Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) ss 24–25. See also AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [160] (Ginnane J); Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 pt 2 r 3; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 35.

5 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [418] (Ginnane J).

6 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 513 [12], 514 [16] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA).

7 See J Mitchell Miller, ‘Becoming an Informant’ (2011) 28(2) Justice Quarterly 203, 205; Clive Harfield, ‘Police Informers and Professional Ethics’ (2012) 31(2) Criminal Justice Ethics 73, 73.

8 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 2.

9 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 4 [1.19].

10 See AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [45] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

11 The common law position is that the identity of a human source must not be disclosed in legal proceedings, except where the disclosure is required for the defence of an accused person. This is discussed in Chapter 14.

12 See AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [47] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

13 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s 25(2)(a).

14 See, eg, Grey v The Queen [2001] HCA 65; Mallard v The Queen (2005) 224 CLR 125; [2005] HCA 68.

15 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 130, 131A; Sankey v Whitlam (1978) 142 CLR 1, 38 (Gibbs ACJ); see AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [42]–[59] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

16 In a letter to Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana dated 30 June 2015, Ms Gobbo estimated that 386 people had been arrested and charged due to the information she had provided to Victoria Police. A copy of that letter is published in the Supreme Court’s decision: AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [19] (Ginnane J).

17 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [18] (Ginnane J).

18 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 22–3 [3.106], 63–4 [8.3]–[8.10].

19 See, eg, Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 63 [8.3], 64 [8.10].

20 Based on Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012); Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015); John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016).

21 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 64 [8.10].

22 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 75, 12 [54].

23 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 75, 12 [55].

24 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 47 [5.17].

25 Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012) 6.

26 See Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 478 [5.19]–[5.20].

27 Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012).

28 In August 2010, the Victoria Police Corporate Management Review Division completed a review of Victoria Police human source management practices: Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012) 7.

29 Mr Comrie recommended that Victoria Police reconstruct the full interpose file to present a complete, factual, sequential and accountable record of its use of Ms Gobbo as a human source: Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012) 12 (Recommendation 1); Exhibit RC1273b Statement of Mr Tim Cartwright, 12 February 2020, 11 [68].

30 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 65 [8.16]–[8.17]; Exhibit RC1067b Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, 3 [1.22]; AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [36] (Ginnane J).

31 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 65–6 [8.18]–[8.19]; Exhibit RC1273b Statement of Mr Tim Cartwright, 17 December 2019, 16–17 [104]; Exhibit RC1067b Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, 3 [1.23]–[1.24].

32 Anthony Dowsley, ‘Underworld Lawyer a Secret Police Informer’, Herald Sun (Melbourne, 31 March 2014).

33 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 1 [1], [4]. The notification to IBAC by Victoria Police was made pursuant to section 57(2) of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic). The Act requires the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police to notify IBAC of any complaint received by the Chief Commissioner about corrupt conduct or misconduct by a Victoria Police employee.

34 Mr Kellam was appointed by IBAC to lead the inquiry because the then Commissioner of IBAC, Mr Stephen O’Bryan, QC, declared himself unable to act because of a perceived conflict of interest: Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 1 [1], [4].

35 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015).

36 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 80. Mr Kellam noted that a full examination of the prosecutions of various clients of Ms Gobbo required to reach such a conclusion was beyond the jurisdiction of IBAC and his inquiry.

37 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 80–1.

38 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 81.

39 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 84 n 176.

40 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 91 (Recommendation 12).

41 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 6 [28].

42 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016).

43 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 5 [22].

44 Based on John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 5 [23]–[27], 31 [182]–[183].

45 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 33 [201]–[203]. The DPP considered that it was highly likely there was more relevant material within police records to which he did not have access: John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 27 [155].

46 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [56] (Ginnane J).

47 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 35 [217].

48 See, John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 35 [212]–[217].

49 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 36 [224].

50 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [56] (Ginnane J). Between 10 March and 31 May 2016 there was a series of correspondence between the DPP, Victoria Police and IBAC in relation to the DPP’s proposed disclosure: see Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [147.2]–[147.11].

51 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [5] (Ginnane J).

52 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [6] (Ginnane J).

53 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [7] (Ginnane J).

54 In his reasons, Ginnane J accepted Ms Gobbo’s evidence that Victoria Police assured her that her identity as a human source would be kept confidential: AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [23]–[24], [28].

55 Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [147.4], [147.12].

56 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [88] (Ginnane J); Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [147.12].

57 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [10] (Ginnane J).

58 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [10]–[11] (Ginnane J); EF v CD [2017] VSC 351, [3]–[4] (Ginnane J). An equitable obligation of confidence can arise where, in the absence of a formal contract, there is an understanding that information is to be treated on a limited basis, in this case, confidentially. Breach of an equitable obligation of confidence occurs when there is an unauthorised use or disclosure of that information: Australian Law Reform Commission, For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (Report No 108, May 2008) vol 1, 565 [15.127].

59 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [63]–[68] (Ginnane J).

60 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [69]–[70] (Ginnane J).

61 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [422] (Ginnane J).

62 EF v CD [2017] VSC 351, [38] (Ginnane J).

63 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [421] (Ginnane J).

64 See AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [73] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

65 AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [74] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

66 AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [214], [231] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

67 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [6] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

68 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [6] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

69 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [6] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

70 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 5 [11] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

71 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 5 [11] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

72 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 5 [10] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

73 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 5 [13] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

74 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, Order 3.2 (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

75 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, Orders 3.1, 5 (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ). The High Court also ordered that the Court’s file remain closed until 5 February 2019: see AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [5] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

76 Victorian Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, ‘Royal Commission into Management of Informants’ (Media Release, 3 December 2018).

77 See, eg, AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [15] (Ginnane J).

78 The information was provided to the Commission in response to a Notice to Produce issued by the Commission to Victoria Police on 23 January 2019: see Transcript of Opening Statements, 15 February 2019, 10.

79 The information was provided to the Commission in response to a Notice to Produce issued by the Commission to Victoria Police on 23 January 2019: see Transcript of Opening Statements, 15 February 2019, 19.

80 In January 2019, the Commission learned that Victoria Police had identified six human source files that required an assessment and that one further human source file had been previously disclosed by Victoria Police to IBAC in March 2018: Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 78; Letter from Department of Justice and Community Safety to the Commission, 10 January 2019.

81 Term of reference 5a was inserted into the Letters Patent when it was amended on 7 February 2019.

82 Victorian Premier, ‘Statement on The Royal Commission into Informants’ (Media Release, 6 February 2019).

83 See AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [5] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

84 AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [3] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

85 See AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [21] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

86 On 11 February 2019, the High Court permitted the Commission to issue notices pursuant to section 17 of the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) that disclosed Ms Gobbo’s name. A similar order was made in the Court of Appeal on 12 February 2019: see AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [7], [42] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

87 The order was made in the High Court by Justice Nettle on 25 January 2019: see AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [5]–[6] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

88 AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [11] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

89 AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [11] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

90 The DPP and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions also opposed making orders prohibiting the publication of the audio recordings, but did not oppose making orders prohibiting the publication of Ms Gobbo’s image, medical practitioners and medical issues, and the names and images of her children: AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [34], [39] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

91 AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [90] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

92 AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [76] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

93 AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [73] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

94 AB v CD & EF [2019] VSCA 28, [77] (Ferguson CJ, Beach and McLeish JJA).

95 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) [2019] HCA 6, [1] (Nettle J).

96 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) [2019] HCA 6, [20] (Nettle J).

97 Publication of the names and images of Ms Gobbo’s children is prohibited by a High Court order until publication of the Commission’s final report, and thereafter for a period of not less than 15 years: Order of Nettle J in AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (High Court of Australia, M73/2018 & M74/2018, 27 February 2019).

98 Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (Progress Report, July 2019).

99 Victorian Attorney-General, ‘Statement on Extension for Royal Commission’ (Media Release, 5 May 2020).

100 The Human Source Policy was finalised in April 2020 but came into effect in May 2020: Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020.


Chapter 2

The importance of the inquiry

Introduction

The Commission’s inquiry, taken at its broadest, had two essential purposes: to identify potential miscarriages of justice, and to restore the community’s faith in the criminal justice system by exposing past failures and recommending measures to avoid such failures in the future.

The Commission was established to inquire into the conduct of Ms Nicola Gobbo in giving information about her clients to police, and the conduct of Victoria Police in using her as a human source. Their conduct—which resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of numerous individuals—has had significant implications not only for those whose cases may have been directly or indirectly affected, but also for the integrity of our criminal justice system.

Members of the public might question the need to scrutinise and denounce seemingly effective intelligence-gathering by the police. The fact that Victoria Police was able, with Ms Gobbo’s assistance, to secure convictions against those accused of committing serious violent and drug-related offences could be regarded as a positive outcome for the community.

As the High Court of Australia identified, however, the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police amounted to a corruption of the criminal justice system.1 Police are not entitled to pursue suspects at any cost—the community’s laws impose constraints on their power. Lawyers cannot freely hand over information about their clients to police—if they do so, they risk breaching their professional duties and obligations, and corrupting the justice system.

These laws exist because the community collectively places great importance on ensuring that the criminal investigation and trial process is fair, so that the public can have confidence that its criminal justice system is in fact just.

When the State prosecutes, convicts and punishes a citizen, it uses its considerable power and resources. To prevent it from abusing that power against individual citizens, it must observe well-established principles and processes to ensure, as far as possible, that there is ‘equality of arms’ between the parties—that is, that both the prosecution and the accused person have equal opportunity to make their case.2 Consistent with the rule of law and the principles underpinning the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Charter), these arrangements apply no matter how serious the crime, and regardless of the identity of the accused person.3

Fair trial principles are therefore fundamental tenets of our democratic society. They protect unjustified incursions into the freedom of all citizens and help ensure that the same law applies to every person in society equally. Fairness underpins and fosters public trust and confidence in, and therefore the legitimacy of, the criminal justice system. The system cannot operate effectively if it does not command the public’s trust and confidence.

In our criminal justice system, failure by police and lawyers to comply with fair trial principles, laws governing investigation methods and professional duties can have serious consequences. The corruption of the fair trial process can result in, among other things, an accused person not having to face trial, a conviction being overturned, an order for acquittal, a new trial or a person being released from custody.

This chapter provides a brief overview of the criminal justice system, the roles and responsibilities of those working within the system, and the principles that need to be observed if it is to operate effectively.

It focuses on three aspects of the criminal justice system that are central to the Commission’s inquiry:

  • the use of human sources to prevent, detect and solve crime
  • police officers’ duties and obligations
  • lawyers’ duties and obligations.

In particular, this chapter explains how principles and processes are applied to strike an appropriate balance between supporting police to combat crime and protecting citizens’ fundamental rights.

Later sections of this report consider these topics in greater detail when analysing the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police, and examining the measures required to address Victoria Police’s management of human sources, in particular those where legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege may arise.

Overview of Victoria’s criminal justice system

Criminal justice system foundations

Our criminal justice system is founded on two broad imperatives:

  • protecting community safety by empowering the State—through its agencies, to detect, investigate and prosecute crime; and through its independent courts, to convict and punish guilty offenders
  • protecting individual citizens by guarding against the State and its agencies exercising their power arbitrarily, corruptly and/or unfairly.

These two imperatives are fundamental to our democratic society; and laws, principles and procedures have evolved over centuries to strike the appropriate balance between them. Individually, these laws, principles and procedures may sometimes seem to be obscure or technical, or even obstacles to the effective delivery of justice. Yet collectively, they enable the criminal justice system to uphold each of these fundamental imperatives, without one unduly undermining or compromising the other.

There are serious consequences for not giving these imperatives their due weight. The risks of not facilitating the investigation, prosecution and punishment of criminal activity are obvious. Our individual and collective safety relies on such conduct being publicly condemned, wrongdoers being held accountable for their actions, and action being taken to prevent further criminal activity. Without an effective criminal justice system, our society would descend into anarchy and vigilantism.

Accordingly, as a community, through Parliament we empower executive agencies within the criminal justice system to protect us from harm and to prosecute those alleged to have caused harm in independent courts. This is achieved by establishing and resourcing these agencies (the police service, prosecution authorities, and corrections services), and legislating to give them functions and powers so they can do their work. It is also achieved by establishing and resourcing an independent judiciary and court system, which perform a critical role in our democracy.

There are also consequences if these agencies do not exercise their powers lawfully, rigorously and competently. To properly administer justice, extensive checks and balances are needed throughout the criminal justice system. These include ensuring that those exercising discretionary executive power act independently, follow established principles of fairness, comply with professional duties, and act with integrity, appropriate transparency and accountability.

If the criminal justice system does not work in this way, there are risks that:

  • people could be vulnerable to arbitrary, unjust, corrupt or incompetent action by the State
  • innocent people could be wrongly convicted and punished, and guilty people could avoid prosecution, conviction or punishment
  • the community could lose confidence and not engage with the criminal justice system—this could include victims opting not to seek the State’s protection, witnesses not cooperating with authorities, offenders not complying with court decisions and sanctions, jurors not convicting offenders even when evidence tends to suggest guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and wrongdoers not being deterred from committing crime.

The practical risks for individual cases are equally as serious. If criminal investigations or prosecutions are so compromised that an accused person is denied fundamental rights, then convictions may be overturned and alleged offenders may be released from custody. The time and effort expended, and paid for by the community, may be for nothing. If new trials are granted, victims may be forced to endure further proceedings long after the alleged offences occurred and the recollections of witnesses have faded. All of this can lead to diminished public trust in the criminal justice system.

Criminal justice system processes

Australia’s Constitution establishes a separation of powers between the Parliament, the executive government and the courts, as does Victoria’s Constitution.4 Under this system, the Parliament makes the law, the executive government—through the police and prosecution agencies—enforces the law, and independent courts (the judicial arm of government) interpret and apply the law.5 In the criminal justice system, the separation of powers principle means that the Parliament is responsible for passing laws about what acts constitute a crime, the executive government is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes and enforcing court sentences, and independent courts are responsible for interpreting the laws, deciding whether a person is guilty or not guilty and sentencing.

When a crime is alleged, the police will investigate, gather evidence and identify suspects. A person who is suspected of committing a crime might be arrested by the police and questioned about their involvement in the crime.6 If the police are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the suspect committed the crime, they may decide to charge the person with a criminal offence.7 Offences can be ‘summary’ (less serious) or ‘indictable’ (more serious). Less serious cases are tried in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and more serious offences are tried in the County Court of Victoria and Supreme Court of Victoria.

Once a person has been charged with a crime, their guilt or innocence is determined in independent courts. After being charged, the person becomes known as an ‘accused person’ or a ‘defendant’.

A criminal case is a contest between two opposing sides. On one side, the prosecution represents the State. It presents the case against the accused person and is responsible for proving beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime. On the other side, the defence represents the accused person, and challenges the prosecution’s case if the accused pleads not guilty.

If the accused person pleads guilty, or the court finds them guilty, they will be sentenced by an independent magistrate or judge. Punishment may include, among many sentencing options, a fine, a community correction order or a sentence of imprisonment.8 A person who has been found guilty and sentenced is known as an ‘offender’.

A person convicted by a court is generally entitled to appeal, or to apply to appeal their conviction and/or sentence to another independent court.9 A successful appeal can result in a conviction being overturned, a verdict of acquittal being entered, a re-trial being ordered or a sentence being varied.10 The appeal process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.

Roles and responsibilities

A range of agencies, office holders and professionals play critical and distinct roles in the criminal justice system. Events of most direct relevance to the Commission’s inquiry are those involving the police in collecting intelligence, and investigating and assisting in the prosecution of cases, and Ms Gobbo as a defence lawyer and human source. The roles played by the prosecution service and courts are also relevant to considering the legality of the conduct of Victoria Police and Ms Gobbo.11

Police

The role of Victoria Police is to serve the Victorian community and uphold the law to promote a safe, secure and orderly society.12

The police are responsible for, among other things, investigating crime, collecting intelligence and evidence, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and arresting and charging suspects. Police officers use a range of investigative powers and methods to carry out these responsibilities, including gathering intelligence and evidence covertly—that is, without the knowledge of the public or the person against whom it is being used. Examples of covert intelligence-gathering methods include the use of surveillance devices and human sources.

Once a suspect has been charged, the police compile a ‘brief of evidence’ that contains details of the evidence to be led in court to support the charge. The accused person is entitled to see the brief of evidence so they can prepare their defence.

Police officers are sometimes required to give evidence in court about the processes by which they investigated the crime, and defence lawyers may be entitled to ask questions about this.

Police use of human sources, and police officers’ general duties and obligations, are discussed below.

Prosecution

Prosecutors represent the Crown and exercise the powers of the State in criminal cases. They appear in court to present the case against the accused person. In Victoria, most summary cases are prosecuted by police officers working in a specialised division of Victoria Police.13 Indictable cases are prosecuted by the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)14 or other lawyers who act for the DPP.15 Federal crimes are prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Like judicial officers, prosecutors play an important role in ensuring that an accused person receives a fair hearing in criminal cases. This promotes public confidence in the criminal justice system.16

The prosecution’s role, if there is sufficient evidence to support the charge, is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the crime by leading the necessary evidence. In undertaking this role, the prosecution has obligations to act fairly.

Prosecutors’ duties, in particular their duty to disclose all relevant evidence, are discussed below.

Defence lawyers

Criminal defence lawyers play a vital role in providing advice to, and representing the interests of, accused persons at various stages of the criminal justice process. The right of a person charged with a criminal offence to communicate with a lawyer is enshrined in Victoria’s Charter.17

A defence lawyer’s involvement often begins when a person suspected of committing a crime is to be formally questioned by police. Before starting any questioning, the police must inform the person that they have a right to communicate with a lawyer, and they must allow this communication to take place.18 This helps ensure that a suspect is treated fairly and that their interests are protected from the beginning of their contact with the criminal justice system.

A defence lawyer’s role in the criminal justice system is to represent the interests of the accused person and to provide them with independent, competent advice. In some cases, particularly those involving serious crimes, a lack of legal representation may mean that an accused person is unable to receive a fair hearing.19

Defence lawyers advise an accused person to help them decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty.20 This step is important not only in promoting an accused person’s right to be presumed innocent, but also in ensuring an efficient criminal justice system—if a person pleads guilty, the cost of and time taken in holding a trial can be avoided, as can any trauma for victims and witnesses in testifying at trial.21 An accused person who pleads guilty may receive a reduced sentence in recognition of these benefits.22

If an accused person pleads not guilty and the case proceeds to a trial, a defence lawyer’s expertise can be critical in testing the evidence the prosecution puts forward. They may cross-examine witnesses and challenge aspects of the prosecution’s case to determine whether there are any gaps or doubts about the evidence being presented to establish the accused person’s guilt. They will discuss with the accused person whether to give or call evidence and whether to plead guilty to some or all of the charges, and will present any defence case. Without the assistance of a defence lawyer, the fairness of the process for the accused person may be compromised.

If an accused person pleads guilty or is found guilty by the courts, a defence lawyer also provides information helpful to the accused person to the sentencing magistrate or judge.

Lawyers’ duties to their clients and to the court are discussed below.

Courts

Courts are presided over by independent judicial officers (judges or magistrates) who have overall responsibility for the conduct and supervision of criminal cases in the court system.23

The judicial officer’s most significant responsibility in a criminal case is to ensure that the accused person receives a fair hearing.24 They also make rulings on legal issues, including what evidence can be used in the hearing.25

Juries allow the community to be part of the criminal justice system. They are usually responsible for determining whether an accused person is guilty or not guilty in serious criminal cases.26 In less serious matters, it is the judicial officer who decides whether to convict or acquit the accused person.27

Judicial officers have sole responsibility for sentencing a person who has been found guilty of a crime. The sentencing process involves balancing competing principles and objectives, such as punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation, to determine an appropriate penalty.28

Principles of the criminal justice system

As noted earlier, the criminal justice system is governed by laws and principles that ensure that when the State is prosecuting an individual, the process is fair to the accused person so that the public can have confidence in the administration of justice. In certain circumstances, these rules require a balancing exercise to be undertaken to ensure different public interest considerations are given the appropriate weight.

The following interrelated principles are of most direct relevance to the Commission’s inquiry, and are outlined in this section:

  • the rights of an accused person
  • prosecutorial duties
  • independent courts and open justice.

The professional duties of police and lawyers are also integral to the proper administration of the criminal justice system. They are discussed in later sections of this chapter.

The rights of an accused person

An accused person is entitled to a fair trial. The right to a fair trial or hearing is reflected in both legislation and in common law principles. It is enshrined in Victoria’s Charter, which provides that an accused person has the ‘right to have the charge … decided by a competent, independent and impartial court after a fair and public hearing’.29

An accused person has specific rights that should be adhered to if a trial is to be fair:

  • the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty—this places the onus (burden) on the prosecution to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused person committed the crime or crimes charged
  • the right to have legal representation
  • the right to know the case against them—this requires the prosecution to disclose all evidence relevant to the charges, including information that might undermine the prosecution case or assist the accused person
  • the right to remain silent—this includes a right to refuse to answer questions during a police interview and a right not to be forced to incriminate themselves
  • the right to be tried without unreasonable delay
  • the right to examine witnesses to test the factual basis of their evidence and their credibility.30

These rights are not absolute—they can be limited or qualified if justified for other reasons. Any limitations or qualifications, however, must be reasonable; that is, such limits need to be ‘demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom’.31

The courts are ultimately responsible for ensuring that an accused person receives a fair hearing. What is required to ensure that a hearing is fair will ultimately depend on the circumstances of the case, and requirements may change over time in line with changing community expectations.32

If an accused person is unable to secure a fair hearing, the court may decide to grant a permanent stay of the prosecution (an order stopping the case from continuing) because the court considers it an abuse of process.33 In practical terms, a permanent stay means that the prosecution must be abandoned. While there is a significant public interest in prosecuting persons accused of serious crimes, and in the courts determining whether or not these persons are guilty, the hearing must be fair.34 Otherwise, any ‘verdict of guilty, and the criminal conviction that follows it, is intrinsically flawed’.35 The court’s power to grant a permanent stay, although reserved for extraordinary cases, reflects the importance of a fair hearing in the criminal justice system.36

Prosecutorial duties

As agents of the State, all prosecutors have a duty to act as impartial ‘ministers of justice’ and must act in a way that assists the court to discover the truth.37 This general duty of impartiality has several elements, including duties to act fairly, not to seek a conviction at all costs, and to call all relevant credible witnesses in the prosecution case.

Another duty central to this inquiry is the duty to disclose all relevant material to the defence.38 The prosecution’s duty of disclosure is not limited to material that the prosecution will rely on and that supports the prosecution case, but extends to any other relevant material that may assist the defence case or undermine the prosecution case.39 The prosecution must disclose anything relevant to the guilt or innocence of the accused person.40

The duty of disclosure applies to ‘the prosecution’ in a broad sense. This includes police prosecutors, the DPP, the CDPP and other lawyers who act on behalf of prosecuting authorities to prosecute a crime. For disclosure purposes, police are considered part of the prosecution. This means that police have a duty to disclose relevant material in their possession to an accused person regardless of whether the particular prosecutor is also aware of the existence of that material.41

The duty of disclosure supports a fair hearing in many ways, including by ensuring an equality of arms between all parties.42 A failure to make proper disclosure can result in a miscarriage of justice and may lead to a conviction being set aside (overturned) on appeal, on the basis that the accused person did not receive a fair trial.43

There are some exceptions to the duty to disclose all relevant information. For the purposes of the matters relevant to this inquiry the main exception is public interest immunity (PII).

PII is a legal principle recognised by the common law and is also a rule of evidence.44 It allows a person to refuse to disclose relevant material that they would otherwise need to disclose, because that disclosure would go against the public interest. Ultimately, this will depend on an assessment of whether the imperative to disclose the information to the accused person is outweighed by other policy and public interest considerations.45

In a criminal proceeding, when PII applies, it acts as an exception to a prosecutor’s duty to disclose all relevant material. If material is held to be covered by PII, it cannot become evidence in the case. It therefore qualifies an accused person’s right to know the case against them.46 Importantly, neither the prosecution nor the police is responsible for ultimately deciding whether PII applies. This is a matter for an independent court.47 In some circumstances, the court may hear applications relating to PII without the defence being notified.48 In determining whether PII applies, the court must assess whether allowing the material into evidence in the case outweighs the public interest in preserving the secrecy or confidentiality of the material.49

When a PII claim is made regarding the use or identity of a human source, considerations that support protecting the identity of a human source (preserving sources of information and thereby supporting the prevention and detection of crime, and protecting the personal safety of human sources and their families)50 must be balanced against competing considerations that support disclosure (promoting open justice and ensuring a fair hearing, including by giving an accused person an opportunity to fully challenge the prosecution’s case against them).51 To ensure the accused person has access to evidence critical to their defence or, as in some cases involving Ms Gobbo, when basic premises of the criminal justice system are debased so that the accused person cannot have a fair trial, the latter considerations—those favouring open justice—will generally prevail.52

Independent courts and open justice

The separation of powers principle requires that courts must be, and be perceived to be, independent and impartial in making decisions about the law. Independence and impartiality are fundamental to the administration of justice. These principles promote an accused person’s right to a fair hearing, and foster public trust and confidence in the integrity of the judicial arm of government: the courts.53

Courts play an active role in monitoring whether all aspects of the trial process are fair to the accused person —that the accused person’s right to be presumed innocent is observed, that they understand the case against them and that they have the opportunity to test the prosecution evidence. Courts are vigilant in ensuring that their processes are not used to oppress parties. They have broad powers to expose and remedy any abuse of process that may undermine the fairness of the trial.54

Openness in the court system is an equally important principle and ensures that justice is not only done but also seen to be done. It requires that, generally, court proceedings are held in public and that information disclosed in court can be communicated freely, including by the media.55 Adherence to this principle is critical to maintaining public confidence in the courts.56 Open justice is necessary because ‘secrecy is conducive to the abuse of power and, thus, to injustice’.57

Victorian law recognises the importance of open justice and the free communication of information, including in demonstrating to the public that laws are applied fairly and effectively.58 In Victoria, hearings in open court are favoured, as is allowing the disclosure of information before the court.59

The open justice principle may be qualified in some cases, such as on the basis of a PII claim. The court may need to decide cases behind closed doors or limit the disclosure of information in a proceeding to prevent prejudice to the administration of justice.60 There are several recognised categories of cases to which this qualification may apply, including cases involving human sources.61

The use of human sources to prevent, detect and solve crime

As discussed in Chapter 1, a human source is commonly understood to be a person who covertly supplies information about crime or people involved in criminal activity to police or other law enforcement agencies.

Police might recruit a human source to observe or infiltrate a criminal enterprise.62 Human sources may actively seek out further intelligence or information if police direct or ask them to. They may also develop or maintain a relationship with other people so that they can provide information about them to police.63

Human sources are a critical source of information and intelligence for law enforcement, especially in efforts to combat serious and organised crime and corruption, sometimes to prevent crimes before they occur.64 Police have increasingly valued human sources as some traditional and new technologies have become more susceptible to counter-technologies, such as encryption.65 As they are sometimes involved in criminal conduct themselves, human sources can provide police with access to criminal networks and activities that police often cannot access through other means.66

Risks associated with the use of human sources

While the use of human sources has been described as ‘one of the most effective weapons in the hands of the detective’,67 it can also be fraught with risks—to the human source, to the police officers involved, and to the administration of justice.68

Significant harm may come to the human source if their role is revealed to the people on whom they are informing.69 A person who provides information to police as a human source, therefore, typically does so expecting that their identity will be protected.70 For these reasons, police can be understandably reluctant to disclose information about human sources in subsequent criminal proceedings.

Other risks or concerns include:

  • improper associations between police and human sources—the covert relationship between police and human sources can ‘[lend] itself to corruption and unethical behaviour’71
  • police ‘licensing’ the human source to commit crime in the course of gathering intelligence72
  • exploitation of police by the human source to gain an advantage or to engage in further illicit activity—sources are motivated to assist police for many reasons, including gaining an advantage over criminal adversaries, or the prospect of a financial reward or discounted sentence73
  • the human source providing tainted, unreliable or fabricated information
  • manipulation of the human source, arising from a power imbalance between police and the source74
  • infringing the human rights of the people who are the targets of the intelligence-gathering—for example, their rights to privacy, reputation and a fair hearing under the Charter.75

There are also specific issues associated with human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege—that is, who have duties not to disclose the information they have even if it may be relevant to a police investigation. Human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege are central to the Commission’s inquiry and are discussed in Chapter 4.

An accused person may be denied access to the full details of the evidence that has been gathered because of the use of a human source, despite the prosecution’s duty of disclosure. As noted above, the use and identities of human sources are often subject to PII claims. This is partly because of the substantial risk of harm to them and their families if their identities as human sources become known, and partly because of the community safety benefits to be gained from the continued use of human sources generally, as they will be unlikely to offer their services if their identities are not protected.

A successful PII claim may affect the right of an accused person to know the full details of the case being made against them, to test the veracity or quality of the evidence being presented, or to challenge the lawfulness of the investigation techniques used by the police.76

Concerns may also arise about systemic issues or problems in the use of human sources by police. Because their use is ordinarily hidden from the public, it is difficult to determine whether police recruitment and management of them is appropriately mitigating the risks involved and is complying with relevant laws, policies and guidelines. Powers that are exercised in secret tend to be more susceptible to misuse, and there is a strong public interest in independently scrutinising their use.

Management of risks

Police must carefully manage and control the risks of using human sources through robust policies, procedures and practices, with accountability, oversight and appropriate transparency. Equally, the measures put in place to manage these risks need to protect the identity of human sources and their families. The measures need to be workable for police officers to implement effectively and must not discourage or deter human sources from assisting police in ongoing and future investigations.

An effective system for the management of human sources should have clear, consistent and practical rules and processes, and be secure and functional. Such a system should prevent corruption and provide adequate protection to human sources and their police handlers (the officers responsible for managing sources). In doing so, it should also help to maintain the community’s trust and confidence in its police service.

In many law enforcement agencies across Australia and internationally, the management of human sources has evolved in recent decades from an unstructured model of individual police officer-human source relationships to ‘a more comprehensive, professional and ethical system of recruiting and managing sources’.77 Contemporary human source management is governed by detailed policies and guidelines that introduce new levels of scrutiny and accountability, and formally recognise the source as an asset of value to the law enforcement agency as a whole, instead of as an informal resource for individual police officers.78

Policies and codes of practice governing the management of human sources typically cover the processes involved in all phases of the relationship with the source: requests for human source assistance, recruitment, registration, interaction, payment and deactivation.79 Current Victoria Police processes for the use of human sources are outlined in Chapter 12.

Although human source management policies and practices may differ across and within agencies, they generally provide for:

  • assessing and evaluating the value of the information that the source can provide and the risks involved in engaging them, often by using a standard risk assessment tool
  • approval, registration, formal tasking and directing of sources (the source may also be asked to sign a document acknowledging their responsibilities and the parameters of their relationship with police)
  • day-to-day management of sources, including documentation of all interactions with them, and of decisions made about their use
  • training of officers involved in managing sources
  • appointment of police handlers and controllers to manage sources
  • processes and arrangements to protect the identity of sources
  • instructions about use, handling and destruction of information, and disclosure requirements in criminal proceedings
  • guidance material about ethical and legal considerations
  • requirements for regular supervision, internal compliance audits and reviews by senior officers or ethics committees.80

Risks can also be addressed through external governance of police use and management of human sources; for example, through legislative frameworks and codes of practice. Documenting processes and standards in legislation can support greater transparency and accountability of police actions and decisions, provide clarity and protection for police officers, and strengthen safeguards against unethical or high-risk conduct. Laws that apply generally to police also play an important role in imposing duties on individual officers in exercising their functions and powers. These laws not only protect those being investigated, but also provide guidance and protection to the officers. They are discussed in the next section.

Some aspects of the laws of evidence can also be considered an indirect form of governance of police use of covert powers and methods, such as the use of human sources, because these laws enable courts to exclude evidence that has been improperly obtained if including it would compromise the fairness of the trial process.81 These laws, however, can only be used if the accused person or the court becomes aware of the investigation techniques that generated the evidence. If there are no other forms of regulation—such as legislation or codes of practice—governing the use of covert powers and methods, it is unlikely that the accused person or the court will have this knowledge.

These issues are discussed in further detail in Chapters 12–14.

Duties of police officers

The public naturally expects police officers to uphold the law and to exercise their considerable power and authority according to law. Police are therefore subject to duties, obligations and professional standards that protect the freedoms of citizens, ensure that those charged with offences receive a fair trial, and promote overall community confidence in the police service.

As a public authority, Victoria Police must adhere to the provisions of the Charter when performing its functions and must act in ways that respect people’s human rights.

By law, each police officer must promise to fulfil their duties ‘faithfully and according to law’ and ‘without favour or affection, malice or ill-will’ before they can commence service.82

Victoria Police recognises the importance of individual police officers acting honestly, fairly and with integrity, and this is reflected in the professional and ethical standards that apply to all Victoria Police employees (both sworn police officers and public servants employed by Victoria Police).83

The Victoria Police Manual reminds officers that:

In taking on the authority and responsibility that comes with being a Victoria Police employee, you are held to a higher standard of conduct in both your public and private lives and are more open to public scrutiny than many other members of the public.84

The Manual explains that acting with integrity involves being honest, respecting the right of fair process for all, demonstrating moral strength and courage, and behaving with honour and impartiality.85

Police officers are authorised to exercise powers that can interfere with the day-to-day rights and freedoms of citizens. They can search and seize property; administer drug and alcohol tests and take forensic samples; question people; issue intervention orders excluding people from entering their own homes; and arrest suspects and take them into custody. Some police powers are covert, and therefore intrude on other specific rights, such as privacy. These include the use of audio, visual and data surveillance devices, covert searches and human sources, and the deployment of undercover police officers. It is critical that, in using these powers, police follow the limits set by Parliament and the courts.

Police are also responsible for gathering evidence that can be used in court, and for starting proceedings against an accused person. In this context, and as agents of the State, they must follow laws and processes to ensure that the accused person receives a fair trial. Their conduct is relevant to whether the investigation and prosecution have been conducted lawfully. So, if police obtain evidence unlawfully—for example, by seizing property without a warrant or using a listening device without authorisation—the court may refuse to allow that evidence to be used at trial, potentially weakening the prosecution’s case. When unlawfully obtained evidence is admitted during trial and there has been no scrutiny of how it was gathered, an appeal court may decide that its use undermined the fairness of the trial as a whole. This, in turn, may justify overturning a conviction.

As discussed above, police are also bound by the duty of disclosure that applies to prosecutors. If they fail to disclose relevant evidence, this may similarly lead to a ruling that the accused person has not been given a fair trial.

To fulfil its role in preventing and investigating crimes, the police service relies on members of the community to report crimes or other suspicious activity. The community’s willingness to work in partnership with the police, and the effectiveness of police efforts in preventing and investigating crime, depend on the public having trust and confidence in the police.86 To earn this trust and confidence, police officers must uphold the law. Unlawful, unethical or questionable conduct of individual police officers can erode public trust and confidence in the police service as a whole.87

Lawyers’ duties and obligations

Lawyers have detailed duties, professional obligations and ethical standards that have two concurrent purposes: to ensure they uphold the proper administration of justice and to act in the best interests of their clients. Lawyers’ compliance with their duties supports public confidence in the legal profession and the justice system.88

Lawyers’ obligations are drawn from a range of sources, such as the Legal Profession Uniform Law, professional conduct rules and the common law. Some of the key duties and obligations held by lawyers that are relevant to the Commission’s inquiry are described below. They are discussed in further detail in Chapters 4, 5 and 15.

Duty to the court

Lawyers are integral participants in the administration of justice, and upon admission to the legal profession become ‘officers of the court’.89 They have an overriding duty to the court and to act in the public interest, which means ensuring the integrity of the law and legal process. Out of this arises their duty to assist the court in the administration of justice.90 This duty is reflected in legal profession conduct rules specifying that lawyers must not engage in conduct that is likely to be prejudicial to, or diminish public confidence in, the administration of justice, or to bring the legal profession into disrepute.91

A lawyer’s duty to the court is paramount.92 They cannot act only in their client’s interests to the detriment of ensuring that justice is delivered in accordance with the law.93

The duty to the court requires lawyers to act honestly in all their dealings with the court and other lawyers.94 They must never mislead the court, and must be frank in their responses and disclosures to it.95 For example, if a client confesses guilt to their lawyer and then wants to give evidence in court that they are not guilty, the lawyer’s paramount duty to the court will usually require that they cease to act for the client—to do otherwise would amount to misleading the court.96

Relevant to this inquiry, a breach of the duty to the court is likely to arise in the circumstances described below, where there has been a breach of another concurrent duty—such as a lawyer’s failure to disclose a conflict of interest.

Duties to the client

Lawyers have considerable authority and power when representing a client—they have knowledge and expertise about the law and legal system, and are privy to their client’s confidential information. Their advice and actions can have a direct influence on the outcomes the client is able to achieve.

So, while lawyers owe a paramount duty to the court, they also owe a duty to their client to act in the client’s best interests.97 This duty promotes trust and helps remedy the imbalance of power between lawyers and their clients. It is subject to the overriding duty to the court, and exists to protect clients from careless or deliberate conduct by their lawyer that might adversely affect their interests. In the criminal justice system, lawyers’ compliance with these obligations is integral to providing the accused person with a fair trial, and therefore integral to the system itself.

To enable their lawyer to act in a client’s best interests, the client must know they can speak as freely as possible when consulting them. Accused persons, and clients of lawyers more generally, should feel comfortable in frankly providing all necessary information without fear that it will be given to anyone else, or later used against them. If clients withhold important information from their lawyers for fear the lawyer might tell the police, the prosecution or the judge without their permission, the client might well receive incomplete or inaccurate advice, and unfavourable outcomes in negotiations or court decisions. This may also lead to courts making flawed or unsafe decisions because they have been provided with incomplete or misleading information.

Together with lawyers’ duty to the court, important rules and legal principles protect the confidentiality and ‘privilege’ of information that clients share with their lawyers, and of the advice lawyers give their clients. While these duties are fundamental to the administration of the justice system, they are not absolute—that is, there are some circumstances in which lawyers are permitted to disclose their communications with their clients.

Legal professional privilege

A client who engages a lawyer has a right to legal professional privilege. The statutory form of legal professional privilege in Victoria is called ‘client legal privilege’.98

Legal professional privilege prevents a lawyer from disclosing certain communications or documents shared between the lawyer and client, even to the court. Communications or documents are only privileged if they came into existence for the dominant purpose of litigation (actual or anticipated) or providing legal advice.99 The client can waive (give up) privilege, in which case their lawyer is permitted, or obliged, to disclose the communications or documents to others.

A breach of legal professional privilege could include disclosure to third parties of communications between a client and their lawyer where those communications predominantly related to the provision of legal advice, or actual or anticipated litigation.

A client’s right to claim privilege over communications with their lawyer is not absolute. Privilege can be lost in circumstances where the client, their lawyer or a third party engages in communications or prepares documents to commit a fraud, offence or other illegal act, or engages in an abuse of power; or if the client waives the privilege.100

Confidentiality

Lawyers also have a broader duty of confidentiality to their clients, which requires that they do not disclose confidential information acquired from a client-lawyer relationship.101

There are limited exceptions to the duty of confidentiality. These might include when the client consents to the information being disclosed; when the information is obtained by the lawyer from another person in circumstances that do not attract confidentiality; or when disclosure is necessary to prevent a probable serious crime or imminent serious physical harm to the client or another person.102

The duties of legal professional privilege and confidentiality are similar, but confidentiality applies in a broader range of circumstances. For example, discussions between a lawyer and client that occur socially but in circumstances where a client still believes the discussion to be one of confidence, while not attracting legal professional privilege, may still be confidential.103

Duty to avoid conflicts of interest

Lawyers are required to promote and protect the interests of their client, and avoid conflicts of interest.104 The client needs to be able to rely on their lawyer and trust that they are acting in good faith and in accordance with the client’s best interests, subject to the lawyer’s overriding duty to the court.

Conflicts of interest can arise when a lawyer’s duty to their client conflicts with the duties they owe to another current or former client, or with the lawyer’s own personal interests.105 For example, a lawyer may be prevented from representing two clients in the same matter when the clients’ interests diverge to the extent that the lawyer is unable to act in the best interests of them both.

Implications for the Commission’s inquiry

The conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police that is the subject of the Commission’s inquiry was beset by breaches of fundamental legal principles and professional and ethical standards.

The criminal justice system can only produce just outcomes when it operates effectively as a whole—when those who work within it respect each other’s distinct role, comply with their duties and act with integrity. It cannot produce just outcomes when key actors disregard long-established principles designed to protect the democratic right to a fair trial, and instead are driven by results-focused behaviour without regard to the broader public interest in the proper administration of justice.

The Commission’s role has been to inquire into ways in which the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police may have tainted and undermined the convictions of numerous people. Just as importantly, its role has been to restore public confidence in the criminal justice system by exposing any improper activities of those whom the community has entrusted to uphold the law, by assessing the adequacy of current policies and practices, and by recommending measures to protect against future misuse of power and breach of duty.

Victoria Police has now accepted that permitting Ms Gobbo to give them information about her own clients was ‘reprehensible’, and ‘an indefensible interference in the lawyer–client relationship that is essential to the proper functioning of the criminal justice system and to the rule of law’.106 In a submission to the Commission,

Victoria Police stated that it ‘apologises to the courts whose processes were impacted by what occurred, and to the community for breaching its trust’.107

Although the events the subject of the Commission’s inquiry took place in the past, they continue to have an impact many years later, as those whose cases have been affected file appeals and perhaps consider claims for compensation. Concerningly, public confidence in Victoria Police has diminished. A survey of Victorians conducted in September 2020 found that public rating of Victoria Police for honesty and ethical standards had dropped significantly over the period coinciding with the Commission’s inquiry. One of the main factors cited by respondents to the survey for their low ratings of police was Victoria Police’s conduct in using Ms Gobbo as a human source, which they believed was ‘unethical’ and ‘had undermined the legal system’.108

Victoria Police itself has acknowledged that:

… the way in which Ms Gobbo was managed as a human source in a way that resulted in a profound interference with the relationship between lawyer and client was a major failing. The consequences of that failing are resonating through the criminal justice system and will do so for many years. It has come at a very high cost to the organisation, to public confidence and to the criminal justice system.109

These consequences are a reminder that the carefully calibrated checks and balances that underpin the criminal justice system need to be valued and protected, even in the most challenging of times.

In publicly exposing Ms Gobbo’s and Victoria Police’s conduct, the Commission’s inquiry should reassure the community that disregard for the law and proper administration of justice will not go unchecked. It should also empower those whose convictions or findings of guilt may be affected to make informed decisions about any future action they may take.

The Commission’s recommendations aim to ensure the events that led to this inquiry cannot occur again, and to help guard against other potential or unforeseen cases of misuse of power or unethical conduct within the criminal justice system. They have been informed by reforms implemented in other jurisdictions, often in response to specific and identified problems and miscarriages of justice.

The Commission has examined the current laws, policy and practices that relate to the use of human sources in Victoria, and the obligations of police and lawyers in that context. Many changes have been implemented by Victoria Police and legal profession bodies since the events the subject of this inquiry took place.

The Commission’s policy recommendations are directed at remedying a number of gaps and shortcomings that persist in Victoria’s policy and governance arrangements in the following areas:

  • the use and management of human sources, in particular those with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • independent oversight of the use of human sources
  • the use and disclosure of human source information in criminal proceedings
  • regulation of the legal profession.

Together, the Commission’s recommendations aim to improve the transparency and accountability of the systems and processes that underpin the criminal justice system, and the capacity of agencies and individuals to fulfil their duties and obligations.

Fostering, embedding and embracing a culture of transparency, accountability and oversight is the most reliable mechanism the Victorian community has to ensure that, in the future, those tasked with administering the criminal justice system maintain the highest possible standards of conduct, and are not tempted to dispense with their duties and obligations, even when faced with challenging and high-profile investigations. A system with appropriate oversight, founded on transparency and accountability, is also critical for preserving the longevity of the policy and practice changes that have already been made by Victoria Police and others, as well as those recommended by the Commission.

The Commission has recommended a suite of reforms that, in combination, aim to create a robust framework that will improve the operation of various aspects of the criminal justice system. It is important that these reforms are considered and implemented together. They should also be monitored into the future to ensure that they have been successfully implemented and their intended purpose achieved.

The successful implementation of the Commission’s recommendations and the subsequent monitoring of those recommendations are key to assuring the Victorian community that the regrettable events leading to this inquiry will not be repeated. It is also key to assuring the community that their police service will work effectively and lawfully within the criminal justice system to protect them from criminal activity without unfair and unjustified incursions on the rights of individual citizens.

Endnotes

1 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [10] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

2 Mark Findlay, Criminal Law: Problems in Context (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2006) 54.

3 Victorian Law Reform Commission, The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process: History, Concepts and Theory (Information Paper No 1, May 2015) 4 [13]; Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) Preamble, s 8(3).

4 The courts are established in Chapter III of the Australian Constitution and Part III of the Constitution Act 1975 (Vic). The term ‘courts’ is used here and in the remaining sections of this chapter to refer to both magistrates and judges.

5 Australian Law Reform Commission, Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws (Report No 129, December 2015) 451.

6 There are several limitations and other safeguards that apply to the arrest and questioning of a suspect: see Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) pt III div 1 sub-divs (30)-(30A).

7 The police may also consider other factors in deciding whether to charge a person, including the public interest: see Victorian Law Reform Commission, The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process (Consultation Paper, July 2015) 43 [5.8].

8 Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) pts 3–3BA.

9 Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) pts 6.1–6.4.

10 See, eg, Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) ss 256, 272, 277, 282, 286, 326E.

11 Section 123 of the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) provides that a royal commission cannot inquire into or exercise any powers in relation to a number of agencies, including a Victorian court and the Victorian DPP, although such agencies may voluntarily provide information to a commission.

12 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) s 8.

13 A separate prosecution division of Victoria Police has been in operation since 1981: see Karl Head, ‘Police Prosecutors and Legal Practitioners’ (1990) (September) Law Institute Journal 842, 842; Chris Corns, ‘Police Summary Prosecutions in Australia and New Zealand: Some Comparisons’ (2000) 19(2) The University of Tasmania Law Review 280, 300.

14 The DPP is an independent lawyer who is appointed by the Governor in Council: Constitution Act 1975 (Vic) s 87AB.

15 For example, this may include Crown Prosecutors, Associate Crown Prosecutors or private barristers: see further Public Prosecutions Act 1994 (Vic).

16 Chief Justice James Spigelman, ‘Public Confidence in the Administration of Criminal Justice’ (2007) 19(2) Current Issues in Criminal Justice 219, 220.

17 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s 25(2)(b).

18 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 464C.

19 Dietrich v The Queen (1992) 177 CLR 292.

20 See, eg, Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 rr 38–41.

21 New South Wales Law Reform Commission, Encouraging Appropriate Early Guilty Pleas (Report No 141, December 2014) xvii.

22 Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) ss 5(2)(e), 6AAA.

23 Judicial College of Victoria, ‘Role of the Judge’, Victorian Criminal Proceedings Manual (Web Page, 1 March 2017) < www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/VCPM/index.htm#27527.htm&gt. See also Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) in relation to the court’s powers in relation to criminal cases.

24 See, eg, Chief Justice Murray Gleeson, ‘The Role of a Judge in a Criminal Trial’ (Conference Paper, Lawasia Conference, 6 June 2007) 2.

25 The rules of evidence are set out in the Evidence Act 2008 (Vic).

26 Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) s 217; Juries Act 2000 (Vic) s 22. Juries are used in indictable cases in the County Court and Supreme Court. In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Criminal Procedure Actwas amended to permit trials by judge alone (that is, without a jury), with the consent of the accused person, within the six-month period following commencement of the amendments: see COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (Vic) pt 3.8.

27 See Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) ch 3.

28 Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) s 5(1).

29 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s 24(1).

30 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s 25; see Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic); see also Victorian Law Reform Commission, The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process: History, Concepts and Theory (Information Paper No 1, May 2015) 3–4 [12].

31 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s 7.

32 Dietrich v The Queen (1992) 177 CLR 292; Australian Law Reform Commission, Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws (Report No 129, December 2015) 222 [8.13]; Sir Anthony Mason, ‘Fair Trial’ (1995) 19 Criminal Law Journal 7, 7.

33 Sir Anthony Mason, ‘Fair Trial’ (1995) 19 Criminal Law Journal 7, 11.

34 Jago v District Court of New South Wales (1989) 168 CLR 23, 72 (Toohey J).

35 Grey v The Queen (2001) 184 ALR 593, 607–8 [53] (Kirby J).

36 Judicial College of Victoria, ‘Abuse of Process and Stays’, Victorian Criminal Proceedings Manual (Web Page, 14 August 2017) < www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/VCPM/27777.htm&gt.

37 David Plater, ‘The Development of the Prosecutor’s Role in England and Australia with Respect to its Duty of Disclosure: Partisan Advocate or Minister of Justice?’ (2006) 25(2) The University of Tasmania Law Review 111, 111; Judicial College of Victoria, ‘Counsel for the Prosecution’, Victorian Criminal Proceedings Manual (Web Page, 14 August 2017) < www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/VCPM/index.htm#27554.htm&gt; Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 29.1; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 83; Director of Public Prosecutions, Policy of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Victoria (17 September 2020) 6 [14].

38 The duty of disclosure is regulated by a combination of the common law, statutory obligations under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic), ethical obligations of lawyers and guidelines issued by the DPP. See David Plater, ‘The Development of the Prosecutor’s Role in England and Australia with Respect to its Duty of Disclosure: Partisan Advocate or Minister of Justice?’ (2006) 25(2) The University of Tasmania Law Review 111, 114; Judicial College of Victoria, ‘Counsel for the Prosecution’, Victorian Criminal Proceedings Manual (Web Page, 14 August 2017) < www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/VCPM/index.htm#27554.htm&gt; Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 29.5; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 87; Director of Public Prosecutions, Policy of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Victoria (17 September 2020) 6-7 [15]-[19].

39 Mallard v The Queen (2005) 224 CLR 125; Grey v The Queen (2001) 184 ALR 593; David Plater, ‘The Development of the Prosecutor’s Role in England and Australia with Respect to its Duty of Disclosure: Partisan Advocate or Minister of Justice?’ (2006) 25(2) The University of Tasmania Law Review 111, 114; Director of Public Prosecutions, Policy of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Victoria (17 September 2020) 6-7 [15]-[19].

40 Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 29.5; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 87.

41 Mallard v The Queen (2005) 224 CLR 125, 132–3 [16] (Gummow, Hayne, Callinan and Heydon JJ); Grey v The Queen (2001) 184 ALR 593; R v Farquharson (2009) 26 VR 410, 464 [210]–[212] (Warren CJ, Nettle and Redlich JJA); David Plater and Lucy De Vreeze, ‘Is the “Golden Rule” of Full Prosecution Disclosure a Modern “Mission Impossible”?’ (2012) 14 Flinders Law Journal 133, 141–2.

42 David Plater, ‘The Development of the Prosecutor’s Role in England and Australia with Respect to its Duty of Disclosure: Partisan Advocate or Minister of Justice?’ (2006) 25(2) The University of Tasmania Law Review 111, 152-3.

43 Mallard v The Queen (2005) 224 CLR 125; Grey v The Queen (2001) 184 ALR 593.

44 Sankey v Whitlam (1978) 142 CLR 1; Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 130.

45 Sankey v Whitlam (1978) 142 CLR 1, 38 (Gibbs ACJ).

46 Lucy Line and David Plater, ‘Police, Prosecutors and Ex Parte Public Interest Immunity Claims: The Use of Special Advocates in Australia’ (2014) 33(2) The University of Tasmania Law Review 255, 256–7.

47 Sankey v Whitlam (1978) 142 CLR 1, 38 (Gibbs ACJ).

48 R v Andrews (2010) 107 SASR 471, 475 (Gray J); R v Reardon (No 2) (2004) 60 NSWLR 454, 468 [47] (Hodgson JA); R v Lipton (2011) 82 NSWLR 123, 149 [89]–[91] (McColl JA); AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [65] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

49 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 130(1).

50 R v Smith (1996) 86 A Crim R 308; Jarvie v The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria at Brunswick [1995] 1 VR 84; Chris Taylor, ‘In the Public Interest: Public Interest Immunity and Police Informants’ (2001) 65(5) The Journal of Criminal Law 435, 442; Henry Mares, ‘Balancing Public Interest and a Fair Trial in Police Informer Privilege: A Critical Australian Perspective’ (2002) 6 International Journal of Evidence and Proof 94, 105–6.

51 Judicial College of Victoria, ‘Category 3: Informers, Undercover Police Operatives and Police Methods’, Open Courts Bench Book (Web Page, 6 February 2019) < www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/OCBB/index.htm#67727.htm&gt; Chris Taylor, ‘In the Public Interest: Public Interest Immunity and Police Informants’ (2001) 65(5) The Journal of Criminal Law 435, 443; Henry Mares, ‘Balancing Public Interest and a Fair Trial in Police Informer Privilege: A Critical Australian Perspective’ (2002) 6 International Journal of Evidence and Proof 94, 106; AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [138] (Ginnane J).

52 R v Smith (1996) 86 A Crim R 308, 311–12 (Gleeson CJ, Clarke and Sheller JJA).

53 Chief Justice Robert French, ‘Essential and Defining Characteristics of Courts in an Age of Institutional Change’ (Speech, Supreme and Federal Court Judges Conference, 21 January 2013) 17-19; Rebecca Ananian-Welsh and George Williams, ‘Judicial Independence from the Executive: A First-Principles Review of the Australian Cases’ (2014) 40(3) Monash University Law Review 593, 594–8; Brendan Gogarty and Benedict Bartl, ‘Tying KableDown: The Uncertainty about the Independence and Impartiality of State Courts following Kable v DPP (NSW) and Why it Matters’ (2009) 32(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 75, 75–80.

54 See Connelly v DPP [1964] AC 1254; Jago v The District Court of New South Wales (1989) 168 CLR 23; Williams v Spautz (1992) 174 CLR 509, 529 (Mason CJ, Dawson, Toohey and McHugh JJ); Moti v The Queen (2011) 245 CLR 456; X7 v Australian Crime Commission (2013) 248 CLR 92, 116 [38] (French CJ and Crennan J).

55 Judicial College of Victoria, ‘Introduction’, Open Courts Bench Book (Web Page, 6 February 2019) < www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/OCBB/index.htm#67679.htm&gt.

56 Chief Justice Robert French, ‘Essential and Defining Characteristics of Courts in an Age of Institutional Change’ (Speech, Supreme and Federal Court Judges Conference, 21 January 2013) 16; Hogan v Hinch (2011) 243 CLR 506, 530 [20] (French CJ).

57 Re Nolan; Ex parte Young (1991) 172 CLR 460, 497 (Gaudron J).

58 Victoria, Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly, 27 June 2013, 2417–18 (Robert Clark, Attorney-General); Open Courts Act 2013 (Vic) ss 4, 28.

59 Open Courts Act 2013 (Vic) ss 4, 28.

60 Open Courts Act 2013 (Vic) ss 18(1)(a), 30(2)(a).

61 Judicial College of Victoria, ‘Ground 1: Administration of Justice’, Open Courts Bench Book (Web Page, 6 February 2019) < www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/OCBB/index.htm#67724.htm&gt; Hogan v Hinch (2011) 243 CLR 506, 531 [21] (French CJ).

62 Peter N Grabosky, ‘Prosecutors, Informants, and the Integrity of the Criminal Justice System’ (July 1992) 4(1) Current Issues in Criminal Justice 47, 48.

63 See Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 2.

64 J Mitchell Miller, ‘Becoming an Informant’ (2011) 28(2) Justice Quarterly 203, 203–4; Seumas Miller and Ian A Gordon, Investigative Ethics: Ethics for Police Detectives and Criminal Investigators (Wiley Blackwell, 2014) 232; Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 4 [1.19]; Clive Harfield, ‘The Governance of Covert Investigation’ (2010) 34(3) Melbourne University Law Review 773, 775–6.

65 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 55 [5.58]; Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 291. See also Submission 101 Australasian Institute of Policing, 14 [17].

66 Office of Police Integrity, Annual Report—Financial Year Ending 30 June 2008 (Report, 2008) 17; J Mitchell Miller, ‘Becoming an Informant’ (2011) 28(2) Justice Quarterly 203, 204; Clive Harfield, ‘Police Informers and Professional Ethics’ (2012) 31(2) Criminal Justice Ethics 73, 73–4.

67 Kingsley Hyland, ‘Assisting Offenders’ in Roger Billingsley (ed), Covert Human Intelligence Sources—The Unlovely Face of Police Work (Waterside Press, 2009) 73, 74, quoting Lord Chief Justice Lane in R v King [1988] 7 Cr App R(S) 227.

68 Charl Crous, ‘Human Intelligence Sources: Challenges in Policy Development’ (2009) 5(3) Security Challenges 117, 120–1; J Mitchell Miller, ‘Becoming an Informant’ (2011) 28(2) Justice Quarterly 203, 217.

69 Seumas Miller and Ian A Gordon, Investigative Ethics: Ethics for Police Detectives and Criminal Investigators (Wiley Blackwell, 2014) 234. See also Jarvie v The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria at Brunswick [1995] 1 VR 84, 88 (Brooking J).

70 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 4 [1.19].

71 Charl Crous, ‘Human Intelligence Sources: Challenges in Policy Development’ (2009) 5(3) Security Challenges 117, 117.

72 Charl Crous, ‘Human Intelligence Sources: Challenges in Policy Development’ (2009) 5(3) Security Challenges 117, 121.

73 Seumas Miller and Ian A Gordon, Investigative Ethics: Ethics for Police Detectives and Criminal Investigators (Wiley Blackwell, 2014) 232; Roger Billingsley, Covert Human Intelligence Sources: The ‘Unlovely’ Face of Police Work (Waterside Press, 2009) 73.

74 Seumas Miller and Ian A Gordon, Investigative Ethics: Ethics for Police Detectives and Criminal Investigators (Wiley Blackwell, 2014) 232–3.

75 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) ss 13, 24, 25.

76 Clive Harfield, ‘The Governance of Covert Investigation’ (2010) 34(3) Melbourne University Law Review 773, 778.

77 Charl Crous, ‘Human Intelligence Sources: Challenges in Policy Development’ (2009) 5(3) Security Challenges 117, 120.

78 Charl Crous, ‘Human Intelligence Sources: Challenges in Policy Development’ (2009) 5(3) Security Challenges 117, 120–1.

79 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 27 [4.16].

80 Charl Crous, ‘Human Intelligence Sources: Challenges in Policy Development’ (2009) 5(3) Security Challenges 117, 124–6. For a description of the evolving provisions in Victoria Police’s human source management policies since 1986, see Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 25–44, [4.5]–[4.102].

81 Clive Harfield, ‘The Governance of Covert Investigation’ (2010) 34(3) Melbourne University Law Review 773, 776, 779-82.

82 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) s 50, sch 2 form 1.

83 Victoria Police, Victoria Police Manual—Policy Rules—Professional and Ethical Standards (5 October 2016) 3.

84 Victoria Police, Victoria Police Manual—Policy Rules—Professional and Ethical Standards (5 October 2016) 1.

85 Victoria Police, Victoria Police Manual—Policy Rules—Professional and Ethical Standards (5 October 2016) 2.

86 This is recognised both in Australia and internationally. For example, see Victoria Police, Victoria Police Blue Paper: A Vision for Victoria Police in 2025 (May 2014) 52-3; New South Wales Sentencing Council, Public Confidence in the NSW Criminal Justice System (Monograph No 2, May 2009) 1; College of Policing, Integrity and Transparency (Web Page, 2017) < www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/Ethics/integrity-and-transparency/Page…;; United States Department of Justice, Principles for Promoting Police Integrity (Report, January 2001) 1.

87 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Police Integrity: Securing and Maintaining Public Confidence (Report, June 1999) 9 [2.1]; College of Policing (United Kingdom), Code of Ethics (July 2014) 1 [1.1.2].

88 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.10]; Arthur Moses, ‘Opinion Piece: Breach of Duties from Lawyer X, Police an Attack on Democracy and Justice’, The Law Council of Australia (Web Page, 22 February 2019) < www.lawcouncil.asn.au/media/news/opinion-piece-breach-of-duties-from-la…;.

89 Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) sch 1 cl 25; Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, ‘The Duty Owed to the Court—Sometimes Forgotten’ (Judicial Conference of Australia Colloquium, Melbourne, 9 October 2009) 3.

90 Chief Justice T F Bathurst, ‘Duties to the Court, Duties of the Court’ (Speech delivered at the Law Society Planning Conference, Bowral, 14 November 2014).

91 Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 5.1; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 8.

92 Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 3.1; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015  rr 4(a), 23.

93 Gianarelli v Wraith (1988) 165 CLR 543, 578–9 (Brennan J).

94 Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 4.1.2; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015  rr 4(c), (d).

95 Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, ‘The Duty Owed to the Court—Sometimes Forgotten’ (Judicial Conference of Australia Colloquium, Melbourne, 9 October 2009) 3.

96 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 80(h).

97 Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 4.1.1; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015  rr 4(d), 35.

98 See Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 117–126.

99 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 118, 119.

100 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 125.

101 See Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 9.1; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015  rr 114, 116.

102 See, eg, Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 9.2; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015  rr 82, 114.

103 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.14], [9.24]–[9.26].

104 See, eg, Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015  rr 4.1.1, 10–12; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 35.

105 Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015  rr 10–12; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 (Vic) rr 35, 101, 119.

106 Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [2.2].

107 Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [2.9].

108 Roy Morgan, ‘As Victorians’ Ratings for Police Fall, Two Themes Emerge: The “Lawyer X” Scandal and COVID Enforcement’, Finding No 8523, 29 September 2020 < www.roymorgan.com/findings/8523-reasons-for-trust-distrust-of-police-vi…>.

109 Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [2.8].


Chapter 3

Conducting the inquiry

Introduction

The Commission’s inquiry commenced shortly after the public revelation that Victoria Police had used a former barrister, Ms Nicola Gobbo, as a human source. Prior to and during the inquiry, some of the people potentially affected, including former clients of Ms Gobbo, appealed their convictions to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Accordingly, the Commission’s work attracted significant public interest.

From the outset, the Commission sought to conduct its inquiry as openly and as transparently as possible. In addition to addressing the matters set out in its terms of reference, the Commission had a critical role in illuminating the events that led to the inquiry, and in restoring public confidence and trust in the criminal justice system.

This chapter describes how the Commission approached its inquiry, in accordance with its terms of reference, its obligations under the Letters Patent, and its powers and obligations under the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) (Inquiries Act), including the requirements of procedural fairness.

The Commission’s work required a team with multidisciplinary skills, expertise and experience. The Commission’s policy and research, investigations, enquiries; operations and media and communications teams were supported by counsel appointed to assist the Commission (known as ‘Counsel Assisting’) and the Commission’s solicitors (known as ‘Solicitors Assisting’).

As discussed below, the Commission’s work included:

  • seeking and obtaining relevant information; in particular, by issuing notices to produce and requests for information
  • receiving submissions from members of the public, including potentially affected persons
  • conducting hearings to examine evidence
  • undertaking research and consulting with Victorian, interstate and international stakeholders and experts
  • reviewing submissions from Counsel Assisting, and submissions from affected people and organisations received in response to Counsel Assisting submissions.

The matters the Commission considered were, at times, highly sensitive and could lead to safety risks for people giving information or evidence at its hearings and their families, or for those affected by the information examined. The Commission adapted its processes to mitigate those risks.

Over the course of the inquiry—almost two years—the Commission:

  • received over 155,000 documents and materials from Victoria Police, individuals and other organisations
  • received 157 submissions from members of the public or organisations during its public submissions process
  • held 129 days of public or private hearings and examined 82 witnesses
  • consulted with 97 individuals and organisations with experience and expertise relevant to terms of reference 3–6
  • received 45 responsive submissions relevant to terms of reference 1 and 2 and four responsive submissions relevant to terms of reference 3–6.

The Commission faced a number of constraints and challenges that affected its reporting timelines and the way it conducted and reported on the inquiry, including challenges associated with the production of documents, the resolution of public interest immunity (PII) claims, and limitations on the Commission’s powers under the Inquiries Act. These challenges are discussed in Chapter 16.

This chapter outlines:

  • the Commission’s powers and obligations
  • how the Commission approached its inquiry
  • the adverse findings process
  • the Commission’s reporting.

These matters are discussed in turn below.

The Commission’s powers and obligations

The Commission was established under the Inquiries Act. The Act provides for the conduct and establishment of a royal commission in Victoria and sets out the powers it may exercise.

The Inquiries Act enabled the Commission to conduct its inquiry in the manner it considered appropriate, subject to its powers under the Act, its Letters Patent and the requirements of procedural fairness.1

Powers under the Inquiries Act

Under the Inquiries Act, the Commission had the power to:

  • issue a notice to compel a person to produce documents to the Commission (known as a ‘notice to produce’)
  • issue a notice to compel a person to attend and give evidence at the Commission’s hearings (known as a ‘notice to attend’)
  • apply to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria for a search warrant to, for example, inspect and copy a document relevant to the inquiry
  • conduct hearings in public or in private.2

The Commission did not have any judicial powers. While it was required by its terms of reference to identify the number of, and the extent to which, cases may have been affected by Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, it was not the Commission’s role to overturn a conviction, order a re-trial, change a sentence or release a person from custody. These are matters for the courts.

For example, the avenues of recourse that may be available to a person convicted of a serious offence include:

  • an appeal against a conviction—an appeal made to an appellate court, often on the basis there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice, usually seeking to overturn a conviction and either direct a verdict of acquittal or order a new trial3
  • a petition for mercy—a formal petition to the Victorian Attorney-General to refer a case to the Court of Appeal or to refer a specific point of law to the Supreme Court of Victoria for an advisory opinion.4

As noted above, the Inquiries Act placed some constraints on the Commission’s powers, which affected the way it conducted the inquiry. These included a person’s ability under the Act to refuse to provide information to the Commission if that information is subject to PII, and the Commission’s inability under the Act to compel a person to prepare a written statement.5 Challenges also arose because various Victorian independent bodies and office holders are exempt from the coercive powers of a royal commission.6 Resolving these issues will be important for future inquiries, particularly inquiries that rely on the investigative powers provided by the Inquiries Act.

These challenges and the Commission’s conclusions about how they might be resolved are discussed in Chapter 16.

Obligations under the Letters Patent

The Commission’s Letters Patent required the Commission to:

  • take care not to prejudice any ongoing investigations or court proceedings, or exercise any coercive or investigative powers in a manner that would be in contempt of court
  • avoid unnecessarily duplicating the investigations or recommendations of previous related inquiries
  • work cooperatively with any other inquiries or investigations into Victoria Police’s handling of Ms Gobbo as a human source to avoid any unnecessary duplication
  • have regard to related court proceedings and future court proceedings commenced by affected persons, and to the safety of Ms Gobbo and other persons affected by the matters raised in the Commission’s inquiry
  • promptly alert the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) to any information or documents relevant to their functions, including their duty of disclosure.

A copy of the Commission’s Letters Patent is at Appendix A and a copy of the amendments to the Letters Patent is at Appendix B.

Procedural fairness

The Commission had the power under the Inquiries Act to conduct its inquiry in any manner it saw fit subject to the requirements of procedural fairness, and a common law obligation to exercise its powers with fairness to those persons whose interests might be affected.7

At common law, the obligation to afford procedural fairness extends to any person whose rights, interests or legitimate expectations may be affected in a direct and immediate way.8 The scope of the obligation to afford procedural fairness is determined by the particular facts and circumstances of an inquiry, including its terms of reference.9

The Commission’s obligation to afford procedural fairness therefore extended to those people whose interests were sufficiently affected by the inquiry. The Commission afforded procedural fairness to those people by providing them with the opportunity to:

  • apply to be heard at the Commission’s public hearings and/or cross-examine witnesses on certain matters
  • provide written submissions to the Commission
  • review and consider the critical issues and evidence relevant to the inquiry and potential findings that affected their interests
  • put forward information to the Commission in support of their interests, including the opportunity to rebut or qualify information before the inquiry.

The Inquiries Act also imposes a statutory obligation on a royal commission to afford procedural fairness when a commission proposes to make an adverse finding against a person.10

Between June and September 2020, the Commission conducted a formal adverse findings and procedural fairness process to ensure that people whose interests were sufficiently affected by the Commission’s potential findings were:

  • aware of the matters on which the proposed finding was based, including the critical facts, evidence and other issues taken into account
  • given the opportunity to make submissions to the Commission in support of their interests.

The Commission’s adverse findings and procedural fairness process is discussed further below.

Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

When conducting the inquiry, the Commission also considered and applied the principles under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Charter).

The Commission was acutely aware of the rights of people who may have been affected by the inquiry, particularly those whose cases may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and Victoria Police officers who were involved in using Ms Gobbo as a human source.

The Commission considered those persons’ Charter rights—including the right to life, right to privacy and right to a fair hearing—during its public submissions process, its hearings, and during the formulation of this final report and its findings and recommendations.11 This consideration of a person’s rights influenced decisions such as whether the Commission would:

  • conduct its hearings in public or in private
  • make orders to protect the identity of a witness or prevent the publication of sensitive information
  • publish information to its website, including submissions from members of the public who asked that their information be treated anonymously or confidentially.

Approach to the inquiry

The Commission’s inquiry was structured around five key areas of work to enable the production and examination of evidence. Those five areas involved:

  • seeking and obtaining information from individuals and organisations by issuing notices to produce and requests for information
  • engaging with members of the public to give them an opportunity to contribute to the inquiry and follow the Commission’s work
  • conducting public hearings to examine evidence and promote transparency of the Commission’s work
  • undertaking a comprehensive research program, including consultation with agencies and individuals with expertise in matters relevant to the terms of reference
  • receiving advice from Counsel Assisting on matters relating to terms of reference 1 and 2.

These are discussed in turn below.

Obtaining information relevant to the inquiry

The Commission’s work involved piecing together events and interactions that occurred between 1993 and 2020. This required access to a large volume of documents and material relevant to that period. The Commission relied heavily on its power under the Inquiries Act to compel the production of documents. Many agencies and individuals also provided material to the Commission voluntarily.

Notices to produce and requests for information

Under the Inquiries Act, the Commission had the power to issue a notice to an individual or an organisation to compel them to produce a document to the Commission within a specified period of time.12 That power did not extend to certain bodies and office holders, including the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), Victorian Ombudsman, DPP, CDPP and Victorian courts.13 Those bodies could only provide information voluntarily.

When the Commission was prevented from issuing a notice to produce under the Inquiries Act, or when it required general information rather than the production of a specific document, it could issue formal requests for information.

From 4 January 2019 to 5 October 2020, the Commission issued notices to produce and formal requests for information to various individuals and agencies, including Victoria Police. The number of notices and requests issued and documents received by the Commission is displayed in Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1: Number of notices to produce and formal requests for information issued by the Commission
Figure 3.1- Number of notices to produce and formal requests for information issued by the Commission

In December 2018, Victoria Police established Taskforce Landow, to support its contribution to the Commission’s inquiry and to oversee its responses to the Commission’s notices to produce and other requests. Commission staff and Solicitors Assisting also met with Taskforce Landow and senior Victoria Police officers to enable access to documents and receive briefings on matters relevant to the inquiry.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety also established a business unit to coordinate and oversee the State of Victoria’s response to the Commission.

The Commission is grateful to the many individuals and agencies that provided material voluntarily, despite being exempt from the Commission’s compulsory powers, including IBAC, the Victorian Ombudsman, the DPP, CDPP, Victorian courts, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).14

Document management and security

The production of documents to the Commission was supported by a document management protocol that specified, among other things, how:

  • documents and all attachments should be provided
  • documents should be named and categorised
  • documents subject to a PII claim or legal professional privilege should be produced.

Challenges relating to the production of documents, including delays and failures to comply with the document management protocol, are discussed in Chapter 16.

Document security protocols

Given the sensitivity of material produced, the Commission created customised, protected level document management, information technology and security systems to securely store all documents received.

The Commission’s security arrangements, including physical, personnel, information and governance security, were developed to support holding and managing classified information up to ‘protected’ level and followed the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework. The Commission’s information technology systems included a secure internet gateway service that was assessed under the Information Security Registered Assessors Program and certified to ‘protected’ level by the Australian Signals Directorate.

In accordance with the Inquiries Act, at the conclusion of the inquiry, all documents and material held by the Commission will be transferred to the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Public Record Office Victoria. The documents will be held there and dealt with on the same basis, and in the same manner, as they were by the Commission.15 This is discussed in Chapter 17.

Engaging with members of the public

The Commission examined matters of widespread public importance and interest. Accordingly, it was important to seek and understand the views and experiences of members of the public; in particular, people who were potentially affected by Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source. It was also important for the Commission to give members of the public an opportunity to participate in and observe the Commission’s work.

Members of the public, and those who may have been affected by the inquiry, were able to attend the Commission’s public hearings and were kept informed about the progress of the Commission’s work on its website. The website was regularly updated with information about the Commission’s processes, including public submissions and public hearings. The Commission published exhibits and hearing transcripts to its website as soon as practicable.

The Commission’s enquiries line, email address and secure PO Box also gave members of the public an opportunity to communicate directly with Commission staff, including its team of investigators, who met regularly with people wishing to provide information to the Commission.

The Commission’s public submissions process and the media also facilitated its engagement with the community, as discussed below.

Public submissions

On 7 February 2019, the Commission invited members of the public and organisations to make written submissions relevant to its terms of reference. The Commission’s call for submissions was advertised on its website, as well as through major metropolitan newspapers such as The Age and the Herald Sun. The Commission also engaged with Corrections Victoria to provide prisoners with information about the Commission’s inquiry and submissions process.

Submissions were due by 12 April 2019, although the Commission continued to accept late submissions on a case-by-case basis; in particular, from persons who believed their case may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

In total, 157 submissions were received from members of the public and organisations regarding:

  • potentially affected cases and the conduct of Victoria Police officers (terms of reference 1 and 2)
  • the current adequacy of Victoria Police’s processes for the use of human sources subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege (term of reference 3)
  • the current use and disclosure of human source information in the criminal justice system (term of reference 4)
  • allegations relating to the potential use of other human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege by Victoria Police (term of reference 5)
  • other related matters such as legal profession regulation (term of reference 6)
  • matters outside the scope of the terms of reference.
Figure 3.2: Submissions received by the Commission
Figure 3.2- Submissions received by the Commission

The Commission carefully considered all submissions that fell within its terms of reference.

Submissions received from potentially affected persons and former Victoria Police officers informed the Commission’s review of potentially affected cases. These submissions also helped the Commission identify issues to be examined as part of its public hearings. Other submissions helped the Commission to explore possible reforms to laws, policies and practices relating to the terms of reference. These included submissions on the use and management of human sources, the use of human source information in the criminal justice system, legal ethics and legal profession regulation.

The Commission thanks the many individuals and organisations who took the time to make a submission for their important contribution to the inquiry.

Treatment of submissions

When making a submission, submitters were asked to indicate how they would like the Commission to treat their submission. Submissions could be treated as public, anonymous or confidential.

During the inquiry, public and anonymous submissions were progressively published to the Commission’s website.

While the Commission preferred to make all submissions received available to the public, for various reasons, some submissions were unable to be published to the Commission’s website. These included the author’s preference for the treatment of their submission; the need to protect the safety of the author or other people; and legal reasons such as restrictions on the publication of information that might be subject to legal professional privilege, PII or suppression orders made by the courts.

The 30 submissions that did not fall within the scope of the Commission’s terms of reference were unable to be used as part of the Commission’s inquiry.

A list of submissions received by the Commission that were treated as public submissions is at Appendix C.

Media liaison

There was considerable public interest in the Commission’s inquiry. Liaison with the media was an important tool to communicate the Commission’s work to the community. Reporting of the Commission’s work by the media also encouraged potentially affected persons and their legal representatives to engage with the Commission.

Media releases and statements were regularly published to the Commission’s website to inform the media and the public of key milestones and events in the inquiry, such as the commencement and progress of public hearings.

Media representatives conscientiously abided by the many non-publication orders made by the Commission, as well as the many, sometimes complex court suppression orders.

The Commission thanks the media for the important role they played in the inquiry.

Conducting public hearings

Public hearings were an important mechanism for the Commission to gather evidence and conduct an in-depth examination of matters relevant to the terms of reference.

The events being examined by the Commission were cloaked in secrecy for many years. A crucial function of the inquiry was to assist the Victorian community to understand how Ms Gobbo came to be used as a human source on multiple occasions, the consequences arising from Ms Gobbo’s and Victoria Police’s actions, and what could be done to prevent similar events occurring in the future. Accordingly, the Commission acknowledged at the outset of its inquiry the need to conduct as much of its inquiry in public as possible.16

The Commission’s hearings were held between 15 February 2019 and 13 May 2020. The number of hearing days, witnesses and parties granted leave to appear is displayed in Figure 3.3 and discussed further below.

Figure 3.3: The Commission’s hearings, 2019–20
Figure 3.3- The Commission’s hearings, 2019–20
The focus and operation of the hearings

The primary focus of the hearings held between February 2019 and February 2020 was to examine the issues relating to cases potentially affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and the related conduct of Victoria Police officers (terms of reference 1 and 2). These hearings were held at the Fair Work Commission, Melbourne.17 The Commission is grateful to the Fair Work Commission for making available its hearing room and other facilities.

During those hearings, the Commission examined evidence relating to the interactions between current and former Victoria Police officers and Ms Gobbo between 1993 and 2013. It particularly focused on her third registration and use as a human source between 16 September 2005 and 13 January 2009.18

The Commission also examined issues relating to Victoria Police’s use or potential use of other human sources subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege (relevant to term of reference 5a). These hearings were held in private to protect the identities of those people.

At times, the Commission’s hearings touched on matters considered by previous inquiries, such as the Comrie Review and Kellam Report.19 This was necessary in circumstances where, for example, the Commission had received additional information that was not available to these inquiries or where there were challenges to the facts upon which those inquiries were based.20 In considering such matters, the Commission sought to adhere to its obligation under the Letters Patent to not duplicate the work of these inquiries.

In May 2020, the Commission held hearings to examine policy issues relating to terms of reference 3 and 4. These hearings were held virtually due to COVID-19-related restrictions.

The policy hearings focused on a range of issues to inform the Commission’s inquiry into:

  • Victoria Police’s current policies and practices relating to the use of human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • how information provided by these human sources is used in the criminal justice system and how Victoria Police fulfils its disclosure obligations.

The hearings did not examine a specific set of events or cases. Instead, they explored how to strengthen the current framework for dealing with these types of human sources and the information they provide to police.

Where necessary, the Commission also held directions hearings to manage a range of procedural matters, such as delays in Victoria Police’s production of documents and witness statements. The Commissioner also issued three directions outlining procedural guidelines and processes to support the public hearings. Those directions related to:

  • the general operation of the public hearings, including how witnesses would be called, the examination and cross-examination of witnesses, the tendering of documents and applications for leave to appear
  • witnesses’ legal representation
  • the operation of the Commission’s virtual hearings in May 2020, following the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s directions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.21
Witnesses

Counsel Assisting determined which witnesses were called at the Commission’s hearings and the issues to be explored in evidence, subject to the Commission’s time limitations and reporting requirements. Witnesses were issued notices to attend the Commission’s hearings on specific days.22

Written statements

Witnesses who gave evidence at the hearings, and other individuals relevant to the inquiry, were asked by the Commission to prepare a written statement before giving their evidence.

As the Inquiries Act only empowers the Commission to compel the production of existing documents under a notice to produce, written witness statements were produced on a voluntary basis.23 Once a statement was prepared, the Commission then issued a notice to produce to obtain a copy of it.

Having a written statement available to the Commission prior to a witness appearing to give evidence increased the efficiency of the inquiry, as it assisted in the preparation of questions to put to each witness. While many written statements were provided well in advance of a hearing, this did not always occur.

The Commission received 280 written witness statements.

Written statements and any annexures to statements were tendered as exhibits at the Commission’s hearings and published to the Commission’s website following PII review. This is discussed further below.

Challenges relating to the production of written statements to the Commission, including the timeliness of production, are discussed in Chapter 16.

The Commission thanks all those who voluntarily produced written statements to the Commission, particularly those who did so in a timely way, saving considerable time and public expense.

Witnesses called to give evidence

The Commission heard evidence from 82 witnesses during its hearings.

Counsel Assisting led the examination of all witnesses and were well supported by Solicitors Assisting and the Commission’s team of investigators, who helped to identify witnesses to call and lines of inquiry to pursue.

Whenever possible, a list of upcoming witnesses was regularly published to the Commission’s website to give other people who were potentially affected by a witness’ evidence an opportunity to participate in hearings by applying for leave to appear. The Commission’s ability to publish these lists was sometimes disrupted by the late provision of written statements. These applications for leave to appear are discussed further below.

During its hearings relating to terms of reference 1 and 2, the Commission heard from current and former Victoria Police officers, including:

  • officers involved in recruiting and registering Ms Gobbo as a human source
  • handlers and controllers in Victoria Police’s Source Development Unit (SDU) who were responsible for managing Ms Gobbo during her time as a human source between 2005 and 200924
  • officers involved in taskforces that had direct engagement with Ms Gobbo, such as the Briars Taskforce and the Petra Taskforce
  • senior Victoria Police management and leadership, including then Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, AM, APM, former Chief Commissioners Kenneth (Ken) Lay, AO, APM, Simon Overland, APM and Christine Nixon, APM, and former Acting Chief Commissioner Timothy (Tim) Cartwright, APM.

The Commission also heard evidence from some of Ms Gobbo’s former clients and other persons who may have been affected by her use as a human source.

In February 2020, the Commission heard evidence from Ms Gobbo, who attended the hearings on video link from a remote location. Ms Gobbo was only visible to the Commissioner.

During the policy hearings relating to terms of reference 3 and 4, the Commission heard from Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam, APM, Specialist Operations, who had responsibility for Victoria Police’s response to the Commission. The Commission also called Professor Sir Jonathan (Jon) Murphy, QPM, DL, Liverpool John Moores University, who generously shared his insights and experience of the United Kingdom’s framework for managing human sources.

Witnesses’ evidence assisted the Commission to better understand how the relationship between Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police evolved. The Commission also heard evidence relating to Victoria Police’s decision making regarding their disclosures about, and recruitment, management and use of, Ms Gobbo as a human source.

The evidence of former and current officers also supported the Commission’s exploration of issues relating to Victoria Police’s human source management policies, practices and training. This included officers’ understanding of their disclosure obligations and of the use of confidential or privileged information obtained from human sources.

A list of witnesses who appeared at the Commission’s public hearings is at Appendix E.

The safety of witnesses

In compelling witnesses to give evidence, the Commission was conscious of its responsibility to support the welfare of these people. The Letters Patent also specifically required the Commission to consider the safety of Ms Gobbo and other persons when undertaking the inquiry.

The matters examined by the Commission were at times highly sensitive and could lead to safety risks for people giving evidence or those affected by the information examined by the Commission. For this reason, some of the Commission’s hearings were closed to the public.

The Commission implemented arrangements to ensure that witnesses were protected, and that sensitive material and information was appropriately managed. The Commission’s hearings were generally live-streamed to its website with a 15 to 20 minute delay. This enabled the Commission to pause the live stream if sensitive information was disclosed inadvertently during the hearings.

In addition, where necessary, the Commission:

  • provided witnesses with a discreet entrance to and exit from the hearing premises
  • allowed witnesses to give evidence from a remote location through telephone or video link
  • used pseudonyms to protect the identities of witnesses and other people mentioned in the inquiry
  • made non-publication orders preventing the disclosure of information examined in hearings.

Counselling support was available to all witnesses to aid their mental health and wellbeing. The Commission engaged a specialist psychological counselling service to support all witnesses prior to, during and following their attendance at the hearings. Victoria Police and The Police Association of Victoria (TPA) also provided support to their members throughout the inquiry.

Expenses incurred by witnesses, including travel, meals and accommodation, if claimed, were reimbursed in accordance with the Inquiries Act and Inquiries Regulations 2015 (Vic).25

Leave to appear at the Commission’s hearings

People wanting to take part in the Commission’s hearings had to apply to the Commission for permission to participate, known as ‘leave to appear’. Leave to appear enabled a person, or their legal representatives, to formally appear in part or all of the hearings, make submissions and, generally, to obtain a copy of the transcript and relevant material.26 People could also make applications for leave to cross-examine a particular witness.

The Commission received 182 applications for leave to appear relating to 72 individuals or organisations, over the course of its hearings, and 11 applications for leave to cross-examine. Of these the Commission granted leave to appear to 63 parties.

The Commission granted ‘standing leave’ for hearings relating to terms of reference 1 and 2 to Victoria Police, Ms Gobbo, the State of Victoria, DPP, CDPP, AFP, ACIC, then Chief Commissioner, Mr Ashton, and former officers of the SDU who had been Ms Gobbo’s handlers during her time as a human source. This allowed these parties’ legal representatives to attend and appear at all of the Commission’s hearings in relation to these terms of reference, make submissions and apply to cross-examine witnesses.

Other individuals and organisations were granted limited leave to appear for certain parts of the Commission’s hearings, and leave to cross-examine certain witnesses where they held a direct or special interest in the matters that were being examined.

A list of parties granted leave to appear at the Commission’s hearings is at Appendix F.

Legal assistance

Current and former police officers who gave evidence at the Commission’s hearings were either represented by the lawyers acting for Victoria Police or had their own separate legal representation.

Other people affected by the Commission’s inquiry sought legal assistance. In October 2019, the State entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Victoria Legal Aid to provide legal assistance to people who had been:

  • issued with a notice to attend the Commission’s hearings
  • issued with a request for information by the Commission requiring them to prepare a written witness statement
  • granted leave to appear at the Commission’s hearings.27

The Commission referred a small number of people to Victoria Legal Aid to obtain legal representation.

Non-publication orders and exclusion orders

The Commission endeavoured to conduct its inquiry as openly as possible. At times, however, it was necessary for legal, privacy or safety reasons to restrict access to some evidence given at its hearings.

Under the Inquiries Act, the Commissioner had the power to:

  • prohibit or restrict the publication of any information that may identify a person who is a witness, or any information or evidence given to the Commission (known as ‘non-publication orders’)28
  • exclude any person from a hearing for reasons including the safety of any person, sensitivity of the proceedings and the possibility of prejudicing any other legal proceeding (known as ‘exclusion orders’).29

In total, the Commission made 293 non-publication orders requiring people to be referred to by pseudonyms or restricting the publication of information.

The Commission also made 78 exclusion orders limiting the public, and on limited occasions the media, access to parts of the proceedings. It did so only where this was clearly required for security and/or safety reasons.

The Commission developed an accreditation system to permit members of the media, as appropriate representatives of the public interest, to attend many proceedings that were closed to the public. This allowed the media to report on matters arising from those closed hearings, subject to court suppression orders or Commission non-publication orders. In hearings where the content was highly sensitive, media representatives’ lawyers were permitted to stay in the hearing room.

Prior to the publication of this final report, the Commission reviewed its non-publication orders to consider whether they remained necessary and revoked those that were no longer needed.

Future access to documents that are subject to a non-publication order—in particular, documents and materials relevant to persons affected by Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source—is discussed in Chapter 17.

Exhibits, transcripts and claims of public interest immunity

Transcripts of the Commission’s hearings and exhibits tendered during each day’s proceedings were made available on the Commission’s website as soon as practicable.

Many of the documents tendered as exhibits at the Commission’s hearings could not be published due to court suppression orders, PII claims or other legal restrictions on their distribution and publication.

A PII claim is a claim by the State to withhold information from legal proceedings or inquiries, if production of that information would be contrary to the public interest.30 These claims are generally made by police. A PII claim on information relating to the identity of human sources is generally based on the need to protect the safety of human sources. Information that might reveal covert police methodology also generally attracts a PII claim, because of the need to mention the confidentiality of techniques that police use to detect and solve crimes.

On 5 June 2019, a protocol was agreed between the Commission, the State of Victoria and Victoria Police regarding the management and publication of documents relevant to a PII claim in the belief that this would speed up the process and avoid the costs and delays of contesting the claims in court.31

This protocol sought to enable Victoria Police to review exhibits (including witness statements) and transcripts and to redact content that was subject to a PII claim prior to the documents being posted to the Commission’s website. For several reasons, the protocol could not be implemented fully. This is discussed further in Chapter 16.

The Commission also provided the AFP with exhibits and transcripts, and an opportunity to make PII claims. Where necessary, the ACIC and IBAC were also provided with documents for their review.

Prior to publication on the website, the Commission considered the requested redactions to exhibits and transcripts and resolved any PII claims. It also reviewed the exhibits and transcripts against any court suppression orders and against the Commission’s own non-publication orders. The PII claims were then applied on an interim basis before publication to the website.

In total, 1,957 exhibits were tendered by the Commission. Of those, 125 exhibits were treated as confidential exhibits for safety and/or security reasons and were not able to be published.

The process the Commission adopted for the review and publication of exhibits is displayed in Figure 3.4. Transcripts were also reviewed in a similar way.

Figure 3.4: Process for review and publication of exhibits tendered at the Commission’s hearings
Figure 3.4- Process for review and publication of exhibits tendered at the Commission’s hearings

This extensive review process at times caused delays in the publication of exhibits and transcripts to the Commission’s website. This is discussed further in Chapter 16.

Research

The Commission’s inquiry into terms of reference 3–6 was informed by an in-depth research program that included:

  • undertaking literature reviews and desktop research
  • assessing policies and procedures provided by a range of law enforcement and other agencies
  • consulting with organisations and experts with relevant knowledge and experience
  • conducting focus groups with serving Victoria Police officers who hold human source management responsibilities
  • auditing Victoria Police human source files relating to human sources with potential legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • preparing a consultation paper on disclosure practices relating to the use of human source information in the criminal justice system.

Some of these activities are discussed in more detail below.

Engagement with stakeholder organisations and experts

The Commission conducted extensive stakeholder consultation to inform its inquiries into terms of reference 3–6.

Between March 2019 and June 2020, the Commission consulted with 97 Victorian, interstate and international stakeholders and experts, including:

  • law enforcement, intelligence and justice agencies
  • prosecuting authorities
  • bar associations, law societies and legal profession bodies and regulators
  • police oversight, integrity and anti-corruption agencies
  • academics and research institutes.

The number of stakeholders consulted by the Commission is displayed in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5: Australian and international stakeholders consulted by the Commission
Figure 3.5 - Australian and international stakeholders consulted by the Commission

The expertise of individuals and organisations consulted by the Commission gave it a detailed understanding of relevant legislation, policies, processes and frameworks in other jurisdictions. The consultations helped the Commission understand the practical operation of:

  • current policies and frameworks related to human source management
  • police disclosure obligations
  • legal profession regulation
  • other matters related to the terms of reference.

The experiences and insights of these stakeholders also enabled the Commission to develop evidence-based and practical recommendations for reform in these areas. The Commission thanks them for sharing their expertise.

A list of individuals and organisations consulted by the Commission is at Appendix G.

Focus groups with current Victoria Police officers

To obtain a comprehensive understanding of the adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police’s current human source management processes, the Commission considered it necessary to obtain the views and experiences of the Victoria Police officers who currently apply those processes.

Between December 2019 and February 2020, the Commission hosted six focus groups with 39 serving Victoria Police officers involved in human source management.

The objectives of the focus groups were to:

  • gather information about how Victoria Police officers understand and apply human source policies and practices
  • give officers an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and complexities arising from their use and management of human sources, and to contribute to the Commission’s inquiry and any potential improvements in policies, training, support and guidance material
  • gain an understanding of Victoria Police’s broader operating environment and the likely practical consequences of any changes to its human source management framework.

In conducting the focus groups, the Commission was conscious of the sensitivity of information being discussed and of the need to protect the identities of human sources, the identities of officers who handle human sources and the integrity of confidential police methods.

The Commission also wanted to ensure that officers felt they were able to participate openly and honestly in the focus groups, without any concerns that their comments would be attributed to them in this final report or otherwise obtained by Victoria Police Executive Command. To manage these risks and concerns, all information collected from participants was de-identified.

The focus groups gave the Commission important insights into the practical operation of Victoria Police’s human source management framework and the processes that apply specifically to human sources who may be subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege. The focus groups also enabled the Commission to test the operational feasibility of policy, procedural and structural reforms that might strengthen Victoria Police’s human source management practices.

The Commission is grateful to the Victoria Police officers who volunteered their time to participate in and support this project, and to Victoria Police Executive Command and Taskforce Landow for encouraging the initiative.

The outcomes of the focus groups are discussed further in Chapters 10, 11 and 12.

Audit and review of human source files

In late 2019, the Commission commenced an audit of 31 Victoria Police files relating to human sources with potential legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, to assist the Commission’s work on terms of reference 3 and 5a.

The purpose of the Commission’s audit was to:

  • inform the Commission’s assessment of the adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police’s current human source management policies and practices, and its compliance with the Kellam Report recommendations
  • identify any issues arising from Victoria Police’s use of other human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.

The 31 human source files related to three professional categories: government, journalist and medical. Lawyers and occupations associated with the legal profession were excluded from the audit, as the relevant files had been separately disclosed to the Commission, as discussed below.

The scope and outcomes of the audit are discussed further in Chapters 10, 11 and 12.

Review of human source files associated with the legal profession

During the inquiry, Victoria Police identified 12 human source files relating to people associated with the legal profession, other than Ms Gobbo.

Hard-copy redacted records were provided to the Commission for review. In some cases, issues relating to these human sources or prospective human sources were examined in private hearings.

The Commission’s review of the 12 human source files and its observations are discussed further in Chapter 10.

Consultation paper on disclosure practices

In November 2019, the Commission released a consultation paper seeking views from key stakeholders on:

  • the current use of human source information in the criminal justice system from human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • Victoria Police’s practices for disclosing the use of such human sources to prosecuting authorities.

The consultation paper related to the Commission’s work on term of reference 4.32

The paper asked stakeholders to comment on the adequacy of current processes in Victoria and whether there is a need for reform, including in relation to:

  • the framework, policies and practices governing disclosure of relevant material by Victoria Police to the prosecution and the accused person
  • the framework, policies and practices for resolving PII claims
  • whether Victoria Police should be required to disclose human source material to the prosecution
  • how well Victoria Police understands issues relating to legal professional privilege, PII and disclosure.

The consultation paper was circulated to a range of key Victorian agencies that the Commission considered would have an interest in, and understanding and experience of, these issues. The Commission received submissions in response from Victoria Police, the DPP, CDPP, Victoria Legal Aid, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Criminal Bar Association.

These responses are discussed further in Chapter 14.

Counsel Assisting the Commission

The role of Counsel Assisting the Commission was to:

  • identify and advance lines of inquiry
  • identify and determine the order of witnesses and lead the examination of witnesses at the public hearings
  • provide advice on discrete areas of law and procedure
  • provide submissions, including reply submissions, in relation to terms of reference 1 and 2 (discussed below).

Counsel Assisting did not have a role in drafting this final report or in the formulation of the Commissioner’s findings or recommendations.

Following the conclusion of the Commission’s hearings, Counsel Assisting continued their inquiries and then prepared written submissions to the Commission on the legal principles underpinning their analysis, a narrative account of the relevant events that had occurred, the cases that may have been affected, and the findings they considered were open to the Commissioner to make in relation to terms of reference 1 and 2.

The submissions of Counsel Assisting were independent of the Commission and did not represent the concluded views of the Commissioner. In preparing this final report, the Commissioner considered the submissions of Counsel Assisting, the responsive submissions of those affected by the inquiry, and other evidence before the Commission.33

Counsel Assisting submissions and responsive submissions are discussed below.

Adverse findings process

As discussed above, the Inquiries Act enabled the Commission to conduct its inquiry in the manner it considered appropriate, subject to the Commission’s powers under the Act, its Letters Patent and the requirements of procedural fairness.34 The Act also prescribes how procedural fairness is to be afforded when a royal commission proposes to make an adverse finding.

The Inquiries Act requires that when a royal commission proposes to make a finding that is adverse to a person, it has to be satisfied that the person:

  • was aware of the matters on which the proposed finding was based
  • had an opportunity, at any time during the inquiry, to respond to those matters.35

The Inquiries Act requires a royal commission to consider a person’s response, if any; and, if an adverse finding is then made, to fairly set out their response in its report.36

In June 2020, the Commission commenced a formal adverse findings process, as detailed below.

Adverse findings: terms of reference 1 and 2

The Commission’s findings and recommendations in this final report relating to terms of reference 1 and 2—that is, cases potentially affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and the conduct of Victoria Police officers in using Ms Gobbo as a human source—were informed by:

  • information produced under a notice or provided voluntarily to the Commission
  • public submissions
  • evidence examined at the Commission’s hearings
  • submissions received from Counsel Assisting
  • submissions received from affected persons and organisations in response to Counsel Assisting submissions.
Counsel Assisting submissions

On 26 June 2020, Counsel Assisting produced written submissions to the Commission to consider in relation to terms of reference 1 and 2.37 Those submissions set out:

  • the guiding legal principles and methods that informed their inquiries and analysis
  • a narrative account of the conduct of current and former Victoria Police officers and Ms Gobbo
  • the findings they considered were open to the Commissioner to make
  • the cases they considered may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source based on the evidence available to the Commission.

In their submissions, Counsel Assisting detailed their examination of 124 cases that may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.38

In September 2020, Counsel Assisting produced reply submissions to address some key issues raised in responsive submissions, discussed below.39

Responsive submissions

The Commission provided certain people and organisations with copies of, or extracts from, Counsel Assisting submissions and invited them to make a submission to the Commission in response (known as a ‘responsive submission’).

Copies of Counsel Assisting submissions could not be distributed until the Commission’s application to vary court suppression orders was resolved. The suppression order proceedings are discussed below.

In late June 2020, Counsel Assisting submissions were circulated to Victoria Police, a number of former and current police officers, Ms Gobbo, the State of Victoria, DPP, CDPP, Office of the Chief Examiner, AFP and ACIC, so that they could prepare responsive submissions and make any PII or other non-publication claims.

From July 2020, Counsel Assisting submissions, with any PII and other non-publication claims redacted, were circulated to other people who may have been adversely or otherwise sufficiently affected by Counsel Assisting’s proposed findings, to prepare responsive submissions. Copies of the submissions were provided to:

  • people whose cases were the subject of specific examination in Counsel Assisting submissions
  • other people who may have been adversely affected by Counsel Assisting’s proposed findings.40

All those who received a copy of Counsel Assisting submissions were provided with a reasonable opportunity to make a responsive submission. Where possible, and subject to its reporting timeframes, the Commission gave people additional time to respond, and accepted late submissions.

After publication of Counsel Assisting submissions and responsive submissions to the website, members of the public who considered that they may be adversely affected by proposed findings contended by Counsel Assisting or by responsive submissions were provided with seven days to make a submission to the Commission. Additionally, people and organisations who had already made a responsive submission were provided with the opportunity to make further submissions in response to submissions made by other parties.

Further detail on how the Commission met its procedural fairness obligations relating to terms of reference 1 and 2 is provided in Chapter 5.

The Commission received 45 responsive submissions from organisations and other affected persons.

The Commission carefully considered all responsive submissions and has fairly set out any relevant responses where it has made an adverse finding or comment in this final report.41

A list of responsive submissions received by the Commission is at Appendix D.

Publication of submissions

Redacted copies of Counsel Assisting submissions and responsive submissions were published to the Commission’s website in September 2020.

Prior to publication, those submissions were also reviewed by Victoria Police, the AFP and ACIC so that any PII claims and other non-publication claims could be made by those agencies.

Several people who received a copy of Counsel Assisting submissions—in particular, those whose cases may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as human source—also approached the Commission to apply to:

  • have their case study redacted from Counsel Assisting submissions prior to publication of those submissions to the Commission’s website
  • be assigned a pseudonym to protect their identity.42

The Commission redacted extracts from a number of case studies from Counsel Assisting submissions on PII, legal, reputational and/or safety grounds, and made non-publication orders to assign pseudonyms to people named in those submissions.

A decision not to assign a pseudonym to a current Victoria Police officer was challenged in court. This is discussed further below.

Following a decision of the Commissioner, content was also redacted from Counsel Assisting submissions relating to their contention that it was open to the Commissioner to find that various named current and former Victoria Police officers and Ms Gobbo may have committed criminal offences.

On 28 August 2020, at the request of Victoria Police, certain current and former Victoria Police officers and Ms Gobbo, the Commissioner published her reasons for that decision and her reasons supporting the Commission’s jurisdiction to make findings of statutory misconduct.43

The Commission, under its Letters Patent, was required to conduct its inquiry in a manner that would not prejudice any ongoing investigations or court proceedings. The Commission has no judicial power. Whether criminal charges should be brought against an individual is a matter for the DPP, not the Commission. If charges are brought, those persons charged are presumed to be innocent and the charges must be determined in a court on the criminal standard of proof, which requires proof beyond reasonable doubt. This is discussed in Chapter 5.

Adverse findings: terms of reference 3–6

Terms of reference 3–6 did not require the Commission to consider the conduct of Victoria Police or Ms Gobbo. These terms of reference related to:

  • Victoria Police’s current processes for using and managing human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • Victoria Police’s current processes for using and disclosing in criminal proceedings information provided by such human sources
  • recommended measures to address Victoria Police’s use of any other human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege who came to the Commission’s attention; or any systemic or other failures in Victoria Police’s processes for its disclosures about, and recruitment, handling and management of, human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • any other matters necessary to satisfactorily resolve the matters set out in terms of reference 1–5.

In September 2020, the Commission provided Victoria Police, the DPP, Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) and TPA with relevant extracts from the Commission’s draft final report relating to terms of reference 3–6 and invited them to make responsive submissions. The Commission carefully considered the responsive submissions received before making any adverse comments and, where relevant and necessary, fairly set out these responses in this final report.

A list of responsive submissions received by the Commission is at Appendix D.

The Commission’s reporting

On 1 July 2019, the Commission delivered a progress report to the Governor of Victoria. That report outlined the key events that led to the establishment of the Commission and its work as at 19 June 2019, including its interpretation of and approach to the terms of reference. The progress report did not include any findings or recommendations—these are included in this final report.

In this final report, the Commission reached conclusions regarding the number of potentially affected cases, the conduct of Victoria Police and its officers, and the conduct of Ms Gobbo.

The Commissioner did not have the power to make any findings of fact or law binding outside this Commission. In effect, the Commission’s findings and recommendations in this final report are advisory in nature and hold no legal force or effect. The Commission nevertheless notes the statement of the Premier of Victoria, The Hon Daniel Andrews, MP, to Parliament at the commencement of this inquiry that his Government intends to implement all of the Commission’s recommendations.44

A list of the Commission’s recommendations can be found in the Final Report Summary.

Preparation of a public report

For the Commission to produce a public report, it had to:

  • overcome restrictions imposed by existing court suppression orders
  • navigate issues regarding the highly sensitive subject matter of the inquiry and issues regarding the safety of persons named in this final report.

It was also important that the Commission’s reporting did not delay the disclosure of information to those people whose cases were potentially affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

The steps taken by the Commission to navigate those issues are discussed below.

Suppression order proceedings

During the course of its work, the Commission identified a significant number of court suppression orders that presented challenges for its inquiries.

In 2019, the Commission made three applications to the courts to vary suppression orders so that it could access protected information and facilitate witnesses to provide evidence at the Commission’s hearings.45

On 1 May 2020, the Commission made an application to vary a further 52 suppression orders made in the Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Supreme Court of Victoria. The Commission requested that the orders be varied to provide that nothing in them would prevent people from disclosing information to the Commission, or prevent the Commission itself from disclosing information, that would otherwise be prohibited by the orders.46

That application was filed in the Court of Appeal to overcome challenges the Commission faced in its reporting, in particular:

  • the likelihood that Counsel Assisting submissions and responsive submissions would contain information that was the subject of suppression orders and that its disclosure could place the Commission and responding parties in breach of those orders
  • the likelihood that the submissions and this final report would contain information that was the subject of suppression orders and the publication of those documents to the Commission’s website would contravene one or more of those orders.47

There were 63 respondents to the Commission’s application, 55 of whom were individuals either the subject of one or more of the suppression orders, or a party to the proceedings in which the suppression orders were made. Other parties to the proceedings included Victoria Police, the DPP, CDPP, AFP and State of Victoria. Five of the 63 respondents opposed the Commission’s application.48

On 23 June 2020, the Court of Appeal granted the Commissioner’s application to vary the suppression orders. The variation enabled the Commissioner to be able to determine for herself whether any orders in accordance with the Inquiries Act and Witness Protection Act 1991 (Vic) were necessary, taking into account matters including any potential resulting risks, whether to the personal safety of affected individuals or to the administration of justice.49

Following the Court of Appeal’s decision, the Commissioner made several non-publication orders to protect the safety and reputation of people referred to in Counsel Assisting submissions, responsive submissions and in this final report.

The use of pseudonyms

At times, the sensitive nature of the information examined during the inquiry required the Commissioner to make orders to restrict the publication of information and protect the identity of people mentioned in Counsel Assisting submissions, responsive submissions and in this final report.

The Inquiries Act enables the Commissioner to make orders to protect the identity of a person in circumstances including where a person may be caused prejudice or hardship, including harm to their safety or reputation; there is a possibility of prejudice to other legal proceedings; or the Commissioner otherwise considers it appropriate.50

In this final report, the Commission has used pseudonyms to deidentify some former and current Victoria Police officers, people whose cases may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and other people relevant to the inquiry. All requests for pseudonyms were carefully considered by the Commissioner, but not all requests were granted.

In July 2020, a current serving Victoria Police officer applied to the Commission for a non-publication order to apply a pseudonym over their name in Counsel Assisting submissions, any responsive submissions filed by another party, and this final report.51 That request was refused by the Commissioner as she was not satisfied, based on the material before her, that there was a significant risk to the officer’s safety.52

The Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police commenced proceedings to review that decision. That application was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The Court observed that if the order sought by the officer was made, other officers may similarly take advantage to anonymise their identity in the Commission’s reports.53

The unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal found:

The anonymisation of the names of alleged wrongdoers would render the recommendations of the Royal Commission far less potent, and would have a severe impact on the rights of those who may have been the victims of Ms Gobbo’s conduct, and the complicity of any police in what might be established as having been a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Those people who might be shown to be victims of such conduct would be denied procedural fairness. 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.54

During the Commission’s public hearings and during the preparation of this final report, the Commission made non-publication orders to protect the identity of people. Some people were assigned multiple pseudonyms throughout the inquiry, to ensure that they could not be identified.

Cases affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source

The Commission was required to identify cases that may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

Alongside the Commission’s work, Victoria Police, the AFP, DPP and CDPP also sought to identify affected cases to meet their disclosure obligations. Throughout the inquiry, the Commission kept those bodies informed of the cases it had identified and intended to review.

The DPP and CDPP provided key documents to the Commission relevant to each individual whom the Commission identified as potentially affected, including indictments, summary prosecutions, sentencing reasons, court orders and appeal proceedings. The Commission only sought documents for those cases it considered warranted an in-depth review.55

Further information was also sought from Victoria Police, including copies of criminal records relating to potentially affected persons.

During the inquiry, concerns arose regarding the timeliness of Victoria Police’s disclosures to affected persons and to the DPP and CDPP. In January 2020, the Commission requested that Victoria Police provide it with weekly reports. Those reports provided the Commission with insight into Victoria Police’s processes and methods for disclosing to affected individuals.

In Chapter 17, the Commission makes recommendations regarding the need for disclosure to be made to those persons identified by the Commission as individuals whose cases may have been affected. In Chapter 9, the Commission recommends that Victoria Police regularly reports on its disclosure to affected persons.

Endnotes

1 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 12.

2 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) ss 17, 24, 28.

3 See Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) ss 276(1), 277. There are several circumstances in which a court may determine that there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice: see Baini v The Queen (2012) 246 CLR 469, 479 [25]–[26] (French CJ, Hayne, Crennan, Kiefel and Bell JJ). A second or subsequent appeal against a conviction can also be made, with leave of the court. A court may grant leave to appeal if it is satisfied that there is ‘fresh and compelling evidence that should, in the interests of justice, be considered on appeal’: Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) s 326C(1); see further ss 326A–326E.

4 Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) s 327(1)(b).

5 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) ss 17, 18.

6 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 123(1).

7 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 12; Annetts v McCann (1990) 170 CLR 596, 598 (Mason CJ, Deane and McHugh JJ); Plaintiff S10/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (2012) 246 CLR 636, 666 [97] (Gummow, Hayne, Crennan and Bell JJ).

8 Kioa v West (1985) 159 CLR 550, 584 (Mason J); Annetts v McCann (1990) 170 CLR 596, 598 (Mason CJ, Deane and McHugh JJ); Ainsworth v Criminal Justice Commission (1992) 175 CLR 564, 577 (Mason CJ, Dawson, Toohey and Gaudron JJ).

9 See SZBEL v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (2006) 228 CLR 152; Commissioner for Australian Capital Territory Revenue v Alphaone Pty Ltd (1994) FLR 576; Lawrie v Lawler (2016) 168 NTR 1.

10 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 36.

11 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) ss 9, 13, 24.

12 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 17(1)(a).

13 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 123(1). The Office of Police Integrity is also covered by this section as the predecessor to IBAC: Independent Broad-Based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic) sch cl 4.

14 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 123.

15 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 124.

16 Transcript of Opening Statements, 15 February 2019, 10.

17 The Commission’s hearings held in May 2020 were conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic social distancing restrictions.

18 This is discussed further in Chapter 6.

19 Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012); Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015).

20 See, eg, Responsive submission, Six former officers of the Source Development Unit, 7 August 2020, 2–5 [4]–[5].

21 Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Practice Direction No 1: General Guidelines—Public Hearings, 4 February 2019; Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Practice Direction No 2: Legal Representation and Witnesses, 27 February 2019; Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Virtual Commission Hearings, 5 May 2020.

22 The Inquiries Act enables the Commission to issue a notice to a person requiring them to attend a hearing at a specified time or place: Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 17(1)(b).

23 See Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 17(1)(a).

24 When Ms Gobbo was registered as a human source in 2005, the human source unit within Victoria Police was called the ‘Dedicated Source Unit’. That unit changed its name to the ‘Source Development Unit’ on 29 May 2006: Victoria Police, ‘Dedicated Source Unit Monthly Report’, May 2006, produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

25 The Inquiries Act provides that a person who is issued a notice to attend a Commission hearing as a witness is entitled to be paid expenses and allowances in accordance with a prescribed scale: Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 42; Inquiries Regulations 2015 (Vic) regs 4–10.

26 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 15.

27 Applications for legal assistance were assessed under Victoria Legal Aid’s Public Interest and Strategic Litigation Guidelines.

28 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 26.

29 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 24.

30 See Sankey v Whitlam (1978) 142 CLR 1; Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 130.

31 A copy of the protocol was published to the Commission’s website: Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Protocol: In relation to claims of public interest immunity over documents required to be produced to the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (5 June 2019).

32 A copy of the consultation paper was published to the Commission’s website: Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Consultation Paper: The current use of specified human source information in the criminal justice system (November 2019).

33 The Commission considered all responsive submissions, including submissions made in response to Counsel Assisting reply submissions.

34 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 12.

35 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 36.

36 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) ss 36(2)–(3).

37 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020).

38 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020), vol 3.

39 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting reply submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (21 September 2020).

40 Persons ‘sufficiently affected’ by Counsel Assisting submissions were convicted persons who were the subject of a case study in Volume 3 of the submissions. Counsel Assisting also identified that other persons’ cases may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo as a human source. Those persons’ cases, however, were not the subject of specific examination and comment by Counsel Assisting, and it was not considered that such persons’ interests were sufficiently affected so as to trigger an obligation to afford procedural fairness: see Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020), vol 1, 7 [21]–[22], 14 [65].

41 The term ‘responsive submissions’ includes submissions made by individuals and organisations, including Victoria Police and Mr Simon Overland, that were made in response to Counsel Assisting reply submissions.

42 Pseudonyms were applied to submissions where court orders required it or where the Commissioner determined it was appropriate based upon requests for reputational, privacy or safety reasons.

43 Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Commissioner’s reasons for decision that the royal commission has jurisdiction to make findings of statutory misconduct by named current or former police officers (28 August 2020).

44 Victoria, Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly, 19 December 2018, 10 (Daniel Andrews, Premier).

45 See, eg, Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants v Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police [2019] VSCA 154 (Whelan, Beach and Weinberg JJA).

46 Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants v DPP [2020] VSCA 184, [2] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA). Initially, the Commission sought to vary 57 suppression orders, but the application with respect to five of those orders was later abandoned.

47 Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants v DPP [2020] VSCA 184, [6] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA).

48 Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants v DPP [2020] VSCA 184, [9] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA).

49 Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants v DPP [2020] VSCA 184, [63], [79] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA); Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 26; Witness Protection Act 1991 (Vic) s 10A.

50 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 26(2).

51 Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police v Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants [2020] VSCA 214, [3]–[4] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA).

52 Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police v Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants [2020] VSCA 214, [5] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA).

53 See Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police v Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants [2020] VSCA 214, [56] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA).

54 Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police v Chairperson of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants [2020] VSCA 214, [57] (Beach, McLeish and Weinberg JJA).

55 See Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 1, 118.


Chapter 4

Legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege

Introduction

Central to the Commission’s inquiry was determining: (a) whether it was appropriate for Victoria Police to seek, acquire and use information from a human source who was legally obliged to keep that information confidential; and (b) the appropriateness of a lawyer, Ms Nicola Gobbo, divulging to Victoria Police information that her clients had entrusted to her. The Commission’s analysis and conclusions about these matters are contained in Volume II of this final report.

In addition to identifying and reporting on the consequences of these events, the Commission was required to examine Victoria Police’s current processes for using and managing human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, and for using information acquired from such sources.

Before examining the adequacy and effectiveness of these processes, the Commission had to define and examine the term ‘legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege’, and consider the implications of using human sources who may be subject to these obligations.

Legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege are duties imposed on people entrusted with confidential or privileged information to keep it confidential and not disclose or disseminate (distribute) it. These duties exist primarily to protect communications in certain professional relationships (such as lawyer–client and doctor–patient relationships), but also to protect sensitive or secret information entrusted to individuals in their work (for example, government officials and employees).

Obligations of confidentiality or privilege arise from diverse legal sources, including legislation, contract, common law and equitable principles, and codes of conduct. The law not only imposes obligations of confidentiality and privilege; it also defines and regulates exceptions to these obligations. That is, it prescribes how and when confidential or privileged information may be lawfully disclosed. As explained in this chapter, such disclosure may happen if there is a competing interest that justifies it.

It is important to understand the difference between confidential and privileged information, and the corresponding obligations not to disclose or disseminate this information. Privileged information is confidential information that attracts a higher level of protection. So, while a court can order disclosure of confidential information in legal proceedings, it cannot order disclosure of privileged information unless an exception applies. Privilege only applies to certain information shared in some circumstances with lawyers, doctors, counsellors, journalists and religious clerics.

It is also important to focus not just on who—because of their profession or occupation—is subject to legal obligations, but on the nature of the information being provided. That is, when considering the implications of using a human source, it is important to determine whether the specific information that they provide is confidential or privileged, rather than simply looking at the source’s occupation.

Confidentiality and privilege limit the scope of information available to law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities when building and presenting a case against a person. While it might be advantageous for police to have ready access to information that supports their investigations of criminal activity, other important and competing interests need to be considered. Permitting police to ‘override’ confidentiality protections enshrined in law raises several concerns. It risks:

  • interfering with a person’s right to and expectations of privacy
  • undermining the public interest in professional relationships built on trust
  • damaging the reputation and integrity of the profession and professionals involved.

Critically, it may also jeopardise investigations and prosecutions, if the access to and/or use of the information is later found to be illegal or improper.

Some stakeholders consulted by the Commission, particularly law enforcement agencies, considered that there are circumstances where it may be appropriate for police to use a human source with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege; for example, to provide information unconnected to their legal obligations. Stakeholders even considered there might be very limited circumstances where police might appropriately recruit a human source with the specific intention of obtaining confidential or privileged information; for example, to prevent serious harm to a person or the community.

Other stakeholders were wholly opposed to police use of human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, arguing that the risks are too significant and not realistically able to be managed. In particular, some legal profession associations and regulatory bodies submitted that lawyers’ duties and obligations are inherently incompatible with using them as human sources.

Having considered the evidence, the Commission’s view is that it is rarely appropriate for police to seek confidential or privileged information from a human source. The only circumstances where it might be appropriate for police to use a human source for this purpose would be when there are exceptional and compelling reasons for doing so, such as a need to respond to a significant threat to community safety. Any proposed use of a human source to obtain confidential or privileged information in these circumstances would still need to be subject to significant safeguards, including independent oversight by an agency external to Victoria Police.

The Commission acknowledges that there are some circumstances in which the use of human sources subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege might pose fewer risks—if, for example, the information being provided is unrelated to the person’s occupation and professional duties, or an exception to the duty of privilege or confidentiality applies. Such scenarios involve complex legal questions, however; and resolving them will often depend on a detailed assessment of the particular case. Consequently, the Commission considers that when deciding whether to use any human source who is reasonably expected to provide confidential or privileged information, this decision must involve rigorous risk assessment and legal advice. The use of such a source should also be referred to senior police decision makers for authorisation.

Current context and law

Terms of reference 3–6 required the Commission to focus on Victoria Police’s use of human sources subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.

Before examining the adequacy and effectiveness of current processes relating to the use and management of such human sources, the Commission had to:

  • define and examine legal obligations of confidentiality and the circumstances in which they arise
  • define and examine legal obligations of privilege and the circumstances in which they arise
  • identify the risks associated with police accessing and using confidential or privileged information
  • consider how police currently manage any risks associated with the use of such human source information.

These matters are discussed in turn below.

Legal obligations of confidentiality

Obligations of confidentiality are duties imposed on people entrusted with confidential information not to disclose or disseminate that information.

Broadly, legal obligations of confidentiality arise when a person entrusts confidential information to another person:

  • for limited use
  • in circumstances in which the law imposes an obligation on the person who receives the information to keep it confidential.1

At its core, confidentiality is about control over information, which empowers the person disclosing the information to ‘influence what others know and … how they behave’.2 For this reason, the law also recognises that obligations of confidentiality can extend to people who have received confidential information—even when they receive it from someone other than the person who originally disclosed it.3

While those subject to legal obligations of confidentiality must not disclose that information to any other party, a court is able to ‘override’ the confidentiality and order them to reveal or disclose the information in the context of legal proceedings.4

A failure to comply with confidentiality obligations may expose a person providing professional services (referred to in this chapter as the ‘professional’) to legal or disciplinary action. The person to whom the professional owes the obligation (referred to in this chapter as the ‘client’) may take legal action against a professional who breaches their confidentiality.5 They could seek an award of damages to compensate them for the effects of the unlawful disclosure, or, in the case of a threatened disclosure, an injunction to prevent the breach. The client may also report the professional to the appropriate regulatory body. Disciplinary proceedings may follow, and these may result in the professional’s licence to practise being restricted or revoked.

People subject to obligations of confidentiality

People may have legal obligations of confidentiality in a broad range of circumstances, including:

  • in the context of service-based professional relationships (such as between lawyers and their clients, and doctors and their patients)
  • where a person is entrusted with knowledge of or access to information designated as sensitive or secret (such as government officials and those with responsibility for handling individuals’ private information)
  • under commercial and employment contracts
  • a combination of the above.

The Commission has focused primarily on legal obligations of confidentiality arising from professional relationships, and, by extension, confidential information derived from those relationships. This is because the law affords particular status to information divulged in these contexts, which is in turn a reflection of broader social interests.6 As discussed further below, legal protection of confidential information supports the operation of important public and social institutions, such as the administration of justice and medical and health services.

Communications that arise in some professional relationships are legally confidential.7 There is no legally recognised definition of ‘professional’ or ‘profession’ that determines whether the law protects the confidentiality of the relationship between the professional and their client.8 Professional status tends to be given to certain occupations based on factors such as training and skill, power imbalances and the likelihood of confidential communications being made.9

The lawyer–client and the health practitioner–patient relationships (the latter most commonly illustrated by the doctor–patient relationship) are the most familiar examples. Other examples of professional relationships where obligations of confidentiality may arise include journalist–source, clergy–penitent, accountant–client and banker–customer.10

In addition to confidentiality obligations arising out of professional relationships, people in certain roles may also be subject to legal obligations to keep the information they acquire in the course of their occupation secret. Cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and government employees are all required to keep certain categories of information that they obtain in the course of their public duties confidential.11 Legislated protection of sensitive and secret information is similarly important for a range of other public policy objectives, including to facilitate the work of government and its agencies.

The basis for obligations of confidentiality in professional relationships

In professional relationships, legal obligations of confidentiality exist for several reasons. When the relationship involves the giving of professional advice, confidentiality obligations encourage frank and open communication, and foster trust and loyalty.12 The underlying assumption is that the professional will be best able to assist the client if the client discloses information fully and freely.13 In other circumstances, such as in the financial sector, confidentiality obligations are considered to promote public confidence in the banking system and capital markets.14

Obliging a professional to maintain confidentiality is not only in the individual client’s interest, but also in the public interest.15 For example, a client’s trust in their lawyer is in the interests of the administration of justice, and a patient’s trust in their doctor is in the interests of maintaining public health.16 The obligations enhance public confidence in the standards and integrity of the legal, health and other systems, and help to ensure that citizens feel confident to use these services.17

Legal obligations to maintain confidentiality

Generally, legal obligations to maintain confidentiality come from three main sources: contract, equity and legislation.18 Obligations may also arise through professional codes of ethics prescribed by governing bodies.

Contract

A contract can create an obligation to maintain confidentiality. The terms of a contract can be express or implied, so an obligation of confidentiality may exist either expressly or by implication.19 An example of an express contractual obligation is a professional service provider, such as a lawyer or an accountant, signing a contract specifying that the service provider will keep the client’s affairs confidential and will not disclose them unless this is justified. In those circumstances, such an express contractual term is designed to reflect a mutually agreed position as to what can and cannot be done with the information.20

Even if a contract does not include an express term requiring a service provider to keep the client’s information confidential, the law may still recognise an obligation of confidentiality implied in the agreement.21 A contractual obligation of confidentiality is often implied as a matter of law in a professional–client relationship (for example, between lawyers and clients, and doctors and patients), and sometimes also embedded in professional rules.22

Equity

Equity is a branch of law that gives courts flexibility to rectify injustices even if a remedy is not available under other areas of law, such as contract or tort. While a contract may not exist in every confidential professional relationship or circumstance in which confidential information is shared, the equitable doctrine of confidentiality (or confidence) may be relied on to protect the disclosure of sensitive information intended to be kept confidential. If information is communicated in circumstances of confidence23—even if there is no contractual or legislated obligation of confidentiality—equity empowers the court to make orders to restrain the release of confidential information or to give a remedy for a breach of confidentiality.24

For example, there is usually a contract between a patient and their doctor when the patient attends a doctor’s surgery or clinic.25 In some circumstances, such as in a public hospital, there may not be a contract between the doctor and patient, but with or without a contract, a doctor would have an equitable duty of confidentiality to protect the patient’s health information.26

Legislation

Legislation may establish legal obligations of confidentiality and impose penalties for unlawfully obtaining or disclosing certain categories of information. For example, the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) and Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) regulate the handling by public and private sector organisations of a person’s health and personal information.

In Victoria, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Charter) protects a person’s rights not to have unlawful or arbitrary interference with their privacy, family, home or correspondence.27 The Charter requires public officials and authorities to act in a way that is compatible with these rights.28 This imposes obligations on government employees to comply with confidentiality requirements.

Codes of ethics

In professions where there is a special commitment to ethical conduct, codes of ethics or professional rules may mandate an obligation of confidentiality to a client. Breach of professional ethics may result in disciplinary proceedings. Professional ethics may also assist the courts in determining the scope of the legal obligation of confidentiality in cases concerning a breach. Professional codes of ethics typically reflect or are underpinned by obligations owed by the professional at law.

Professional codes of ethics are usually made by an industry’s governing regulatory board or peak body.29 They may also be enacted as subordinate legislation,30 or given particular weight under an Act. Lawyers’ obligations to maintain their clients’ confidentiality are set out in the legal profession’s conduct rules.31

Exceptions to obligations of confidentiality

The law does not give a client a ‘cast-iron guarantee of confidentiality’.32 A professional may disclose confidential information; for instance, where an exception in the public interest arises, or where they have a duty to disclose the information because of legislation or a court order. As Lord Diplock stated in Parry-Jones v Law Society:

Such a duty of confidence is subject to, and overridden by, the duty of any party to that contract to comply with the law of the land. If it is the duty of such a party to a contract, whether at common law or under statute, to disclose in defined circumstances confidential information, then he must do so, and any express contract to the contrary would be illegal and void. For example, in the case of banker and customer, the duty of confidence is subject to the overriding duty of the banker at common law to disclose and answer questions as to his customer’s affairs when he is asked to give evidence on them in the witness box in a court of law.33

Professionals can rely on exceptions to legal obligations of confidentiality to defend allegations that they have breached those obligations.

The main exceptions to an obligation of confidentiality are:

  • waiver by the person to whom the obligation is owed through express or implied consent (when a person waives confidentiality, they give up their right to insist that it be maintained)
  • where the professional collaborates with colleagues to fulfil the expected service to the client
  • disclosure of de-identified information (for example, to support medical research)
  • legislation that overrides any obligations of confidentiality and imposes a statutory duty to disclose (for example, mandatory reporting obligations that require people in particular roles to report suspected child physical or sexual abuse to authorities)
  • compulsory court processes (for example, where a subpoena is issued, or the recipient of the information is called as a witness)
  • disclosure in the public interest.34

The public interest exception allows the person who has received confidential information to disclose it to a third party, even if the person who provided the information has not consented, and even if there is no specific legislative provision requiring them to do so. This exception generally applies to information relating to unlawful conduct. The exception, also known as the ‘iniquity rule’, was established in 1856 in the English case of Gartside v Outram:

There is no confidence as to the disclosure of an iniquity. You cannot make me confidant of a crime or a fraud, and be entitled to close up my lips upon any secret which you have the audacity to disclose to me relating to any fraudulent intention on your part; such a confidence cannot exist.35

More recently, Australian courts have confirmed that courts will not protect duties of confidentiality when enforcing such duties would obstruct the administration of criminal law.36

What constitutes an iniquity is not clearly defined in case law, but it tends to mean information concerning ‘crimes or civil wrongs of a serious nature’.37 For example:

… the more serious the nature of the misdeed, the more likely the iniquity defence will succeed. At the other end of the spectrum, breach of a statutory proscription against misleading and deceptive conduct, or proof of actionable negligence, is unlikely to amount to ‘iniquity’ by itself. Nor is behaviour that some, or even many, in society may consider to be immoral, depraved or scandalous, if it is not otherwise illegal.38

As such, the threshold for satisfying the ‘iniquity rule’ is high. When a person becomes aware of serious criminal conduct and believes there is a compelling public interest in providing confidential information to a law enforcement agency, they must ensure that ‘the information is required in the course of the investigation of an actual or reasonably apprehended breach of the criminal law’,39 and not simply because a crime has been committed and they wish to disclose general information that may be only vaguely related.40

The public interest exception may also justify disclosure of confidential information to prevent imminent serious physical harm to the client or another person.41 In these circumstances, care must be taken about what information to disclose, and to whom, so that the disclosure is only as extensive as is necessary to achieve the purpose of the exception.42

When a person raises a claim that the public interest requires the disclosure of otherwise confidential information, the courts have to carefully examine whether the disclosure is in fact warranted by law.43 This exercise, at least implicitly, requires some assessment of whether the specified public interests are best served by disclosure or non-disclosure.44

Due to the many different ways public interest issues can arise, the legal rules about disclosure in the public interest are complex and can be confusing.45 Despite the guidance case law provides, the courts have refrained from prescribing all the circumstances where a person may or must make a disclosure of confidential information.46 Instead, the individual professional must decide whether to disclose, and this may be difficult to navigate.

Challenges associated with the exceptions to the duty of confidentiality owed specifically by lawyers are discussed in Chapter 15.

Legal obligations of privilege

Privileged information can be considered a subset of confidential information. It is confidential information that has additional protections. In essence, the law of privilege allows a person to resist the otherwise compulsory disclosure of information in legal proceedings. If information is privileged, a court cannot order a person to reveal or disclose it. Therefore, its protection from disclosure is stronger than the protection attaching to confidential information generally.

There is a public interest in transparency and uncovering the truth, which facilitates access by courts and parties to any and all information relevant to a matter under consideration in a legal proceeding, even if it is considered confidential in all other contexts.47 In certain narrow circumstances, however, the law recognises that there may be a competing public interest that outweighs the public interest in courts and parties gaining access to particular information. If that is the case, information will be regarded as ‘privileged’ and protected from disclosure requirements unless an exception applies.

Exceptions to privilege are outlined in more detail below, but generally speaking, privilege will not apply if the client waives the privilege—for example, if they intentionally disclose or consent to disclosure of the information. Nor will the privilege apply if the law permits it to be displaced by other public interest considerations, such as not protecting illegal conduct.

Obligations of privilege, therefore, are duties imposed on people entrusted with certain information to protect it, and not disclose or disseminate that information, including in the context of relevant legal proceedings.

People subject to obligations of privilege

In Victoria, privilege applies to these people, in certain defined circumstances:

  • lawyers
  • doctors and counsellors
  • journalists
  • religious clerics.

Whether an individual member of these professions holds an obligation of privilege will depend on a range of legal and factual questions, including:

  • the nature of the information communicated
  • the circumstances in which it was communicated
  • whether there are any exceptions to the privilege.
The basis for obligations of privilege

Obligations of privilege exist for the same reasons as obligations of confidentiality, as outlined in each category of privilege below. The additional protection given to privileged information (over and above confidential information) suggests that the law places a particularly high degree of importance on the need to foster open communication in relationships with these categories of professionals.

Categories of privilege

In Victoria, there are four legislated categories of privilege: legal professional privilege (or client legal privilege), medical privilege, journalist privilege, and religious privilege. These categories are discussed in turn below.

Legal professional privilege

Legal professional privilege is the most well-known type of privilege. It exists at common law and also in statute.48

Legal professional privilege is a fundamental tenet of the administration of justice and cannot be displaced for reasons of convenience: it is regarded as a substantive right, rather than a mere rule of evidence or aspect of court procedure.49

As with confidentiality obligations, legal professional privilege exists to ensure that a client can speak candidly to their lawyer and obtain frank, independent legal advice without fear that the information will be disclosed in court.50 This facilitates the proper administration of justice, by helping to ensure that individuals can receive adequate legal advice and a fair trial.51

The statutory form of legal professional privilege in Victoria is called client legal privilege.52 There are two types of communication protected by client legal privilege:

  • communications made for the dominant purpose of seeking and providing legal advice (advice privilege)53
  • communications for use in existing or anticipated legal proceedings (litigation privilege).54

Client legal privilege protects both written and oral communication.55 The communication must be confidential to be privileged.56 The privilege belongs to the client, and the obligation to protect it rests on the client’s lawyer, as well as any employees or agents of the lawyer (for example, a legal secretary).57 Communications may be privileged even if there is no formal lawyer–client retainer (contract) in place.58

Client legal privilege can be lost when there is an inconsistency between the conduct of the client and the obligation to maintain the confidentiality.58 This can occur when:

  • the client expressly waives privilege60
  • the client impliedly waives privilege—for example, if the client discusses the legally privileged information with third parties in such a way that it is no longer confidential61
  • communications are made by the client to their lawyer or a third party in furtherance of the commission of:
    • a fraud
    • an offence
    • an act that makes a person liable to a civil penalty
    • a deliberate abuse of power (for example, if the client asks their lawyer to destroy documents knowing that they are required to be produced to a court, the communications about that request would not be privileged).62

Medical privilege

Medical privilege protects certain communications made between a doctor and their patient from disclosure in a court proceeding.63 Medical privilege reflects the importance of encouraging people to seek treatment for medical and psychological problems without fear that their sensitive and personal information may be disclosed in court proceedings and potentially used against their interests.

In Victoria, medical privilege is only available in the limited circumstances set out in the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic).64

A doctor (described in the legislation as a ‘physician or surgeon’) cannot be compelled to give evidence in any civil proceeding about information acquired in attending their patient and that was necessary to enable them to treat the patient.65 The privilege does not apply to certain proceedings, including those relating to the death of the patient or in which the sanity or capacity of the patient is in dispute. Nor does it apply to criminal proceedings— in those matters, health information is treated as confidential information, meaning that it must be disclosed to the other parties to the proceeding if it is relevant.66

Additionally, registered medical practitioners67 and counsellors68 cannot be compelled to give evidence in a legal proceeding (either civil or criminal) about any confidential information divulged to them by a victim of sexual assault.69 This privilege is not absolute—the court may allow evidence of a confidential communication to be given if, for example, the public interest in preserving the confidentiality of the information is outweighed by the public interest in admitting the communication into evidence.70 In determining whether to order disclosure of the confidential communication, the court must assess how relevant that particular information is to proving the issues in the proceedings, and must also consider whether disclosure would cause harm to the victim, or could discourage other victims from seeking counselling.71

Journalist privilege

Journalists have obligations of privilege relating to the identity of a person (referred to as a ‘source’ or an ‘informant’) who has given them information in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium.72

Journalist privilege (also known as a ‘shield law’) recognises the importance of the freedom of the press and ‘the important role that journalists play in a democracy’ in providing information and opinions to the public.73 To fulfil this role, journalists need access to information, and are often asked to assure sources that they will not disclose from whom they obtained the information. If journalists were compelled to reveal the identity of confidential sources in court proceedings, this could dissuade those with information about matters of public importance from coming forward, thereby preventing facts and opinions from being aired.

The Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) provides that if a journalist has promised a source not to disclose their identity, neither the journalist nor their employer can be compelled by a court to give evidence or produce a document that would disclose the source’s identity or enable their identity to be ascertained.74

In Victoria, journalist privilege only applies to people ‘engaged in the profession or occupation of journalism in connection with the publication of information, comment, opinion or analysis in a news medium’ and who must comply with recognised standards or codes of practice.75 It is therefore unlikely that the privilege would apply to people merely posting material on blogs or social media platforms.76

Journalist privilege is not absolute—it has been described as a ‘discretionary rule of evidence created by the Evidence Act’.77 A court may override the privilege if the public interest in knowing the source’s identity outweighs:

  • any likely adverse effect of the disclosure on the source or any other person
  • the public interest in the communication of facts and opinion to the public by the news media and in the ability of the news media to access sources of facts.78

Religious privilege

In Victoria, religious privilege enables members of the clergy of any church or religious denomination to refuse to give evidence that a religious confession was made to them or what the contents of a religious confession were.79 A religious confession is ‘a confession made by a person to a member of the clergy in the member’s professional capacity according to the ritual of the church or religious denomination concerned’.80

This privilege recognises the value to society of encouraging people to seek advice about personal problems from a trusted cleric, such as a minister, rabbi or priest, in circumstances where they may be reluctant to ‘bare their souls’ to a stranger.81

There are exceptions to the privilege. A cleric may be compelled to give evidence about a religious confession if the communication was made for a criminal purpose. They can also be compelled to give evidence in proceedings for an offence involving a failure to:

  • comply with mandatory reporting requirements about a child in need of protection
  • disclose information that leads a person to reasonably believe that a sexual offence has been committed against a child.82

The risks of police accessing and using confidential or privileged information from human sources

The Commission’s terms of reference required it to examine policies and processes relating to the use of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.

As discussed in Chapter 2, human sources are people who covertly supply information about crime or people involved in criminal activity to law enforcement agencies. There are risks associated with the use of all human sources. There are additional risks associated with using human sources to obtain information that is confidential or privileged.

These additional risks fall into two broad categories:

  • the risk of undermining the important objectives that underpin confidentiality and privilege protections, with negative implications for individuals, professions and the community
  • the risk of interfering with the proper administration of justice, as illegal and improper investigation methods (and a failure to disclose how evidence was obtained) can compromise the integrity and ultimate success of prosecutions.

Arguably, these risks do not arise, or they are justifiable risks, if the human source provides information to police in one of these circumstances:

  • there is an exception to the source’s legal obligations to keep the information confidential
  • they obtained the information outside the scope of their professional responsibilities.

Nevertheless, as discussed later in this chapter, determining whether any exceptions apply involves considering complex legal, ethical and operational questions. This makes it difficult to establish simple processes for avoiding or mitigating the risks involved.

Undermining the objectives of confidentiality and privilege protections

As noted above, confidentiality and privilege protections underpin and foster relationships of trust and candour that are important for broader policy purposes.

When people confide in professionals about personal or sensitive matters, they do so with the expectation that their confidentiality will be respected and maintained. Such an expectation may be founded on assurances or undertakings provided by the professional in question (including in written privacy policies), a general understanding of the nature of the relationship, and/or a knowledge of the applicable legal principles. Information shared in the context of a professional relationship attracts greater legal protections than information that a person considers sensitive or confidential and shares in the context of a personal relationship.

Therefore, if a professional engaged by a person discloses the person’s confidential or privileged information to others in a way that is inconsistent with their expectations or rights, this undermines the person’s trust in the professional. It also exposes the person to the consequences of having others know their private information. Dissemination of such information may compromise their legal interests (if, for example, their opponents can use the information against them in legal proceedings), jeopardise their safety (if, for example, their whereabouts are made known to someone who intends to harm them) or expose them to discrimination (if, for example, someone treats them less favourably because they know they are suffering from a particular medical condition). Alternatively, it could merely cause them personal embarrassment.

Permitting police to access legally confidential or privileged information—or providing scope for professionals to breach their legal and ethical obligations—undermines the confidence that people can have in professionals. This may result in people not seeking advice and support for important legal problems or health concerns, not confiding in counsellors or religious advisers, or not coming forward with important information for journalists. All of this would have negative consequences not only for individuals, but for the community generally.

If professionals disclose confidential or privileged information about their clients to police or others, the reputation of the entire profession to which they belong may be damaged, and public confidence in institutions undermined. These risks are heightened if the disclosure is made to a person whose interests are in direct conflict with or adverse to those of the client.

Interfering with the proper administration of justice

To the extent that police acquisition and use of confidential information involves contraventions of laws or ethical standards (by the police or by the human source), such acquisition and use may ultimately result in a prosecution being withdrawn or a conviction being overturned on appeal. Non-disclosure of the full details relating to the acquisition of evidence may also jeopardise the outcome of a prosecution. As discussed in Chapters 2 and 5, this is because such actions can prevent an accused person from obtaining a fair trial and may result in a substantial miscarriage of justice.

Given the higher level of protection afforded to privileged information, the consequences associated with its disclosure are likely to be more pronounced. Courts have held that the deliberate invasion of legal professional privilege may lead to a criminal proceeding being stayed on the basis that it involves ‘a serious affront to the integrity of the justice system’.83 In considering whether to stay the proceeding, the court will consider the particular circumstances of the case, including the gravity of the crime and whether the conduct prejudiced the accused person.84

Police management of risks associated with confidential or privileged information

Due to the risks involved in seeking information that may be confidential or privileged, some law enforcement agencies prescribe additional or more rigorous processes for acquiring, using and disseminating material from human sources that may be confidential or privileged. Such processes variously involve requirements:

  • for senior representatives of the agency, or an external authority, to approve the use of the human source
  • to apply a threshold test or criteria for using the human source—for example, a compelling public safety or national security reason
  • to obtain legal advice about the implications of using the human source
  • for police officers to refer any information obtained from a human source that may be confidential or privileged to more senior personnel and/or their legal advisers
  • to notify prosecuting authorities that a human source with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege has been engaged and/or that confidential or privileged information has been obtained.

These processes are discussed in detail in Chapter 12 but key features are outlined briefly here. Processes relevant to the disclosure of information obtained from human sources by police to prosecuting agencies and accused persons are discussed in Chapter 14.

The risks associated with police obtaining and using confidential or privileged information apply not only in relation to the use of human sources, but also to the use of other covert or coercive means, such as controlled operations, covert surveillance, coercive questioning or search warrants. The Commission understands that Victoria Police has operating procedures in place for ‘quarantining’ privileged information obtained through certain covert powers.85 In the case of information obtained through telephone intercepts under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth), for example, a dedicated unit of Victoria Police undertakes the initial monitoring of legally intercepted information and identifies any sensitive material, such as conversations between the target and a lawyer. If this information is assessed by senior officers and/or the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office as being subject to legal professional privilege, it is quarantined so that it is not available to investigators working on the case. The staff in the responsible unit are provided with one-on-one training about this process and their role in identifying sensitive material.86

Approval

In Victoria, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, human source policies expressly address police access to and use of confidential and/or privileged information. These policies take varying approaches to approving the use of human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.

In certain circumstances and subject to a prescribed approval process, the Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources (Human Source Policy) permits:

  • the registration of a human source with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • the use of information that is or appears to be in breach of a human source’s legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.87

In cases where approval is granted, it must be for a specific time period and specific purpose, and the human source must be managed as a ‘high-risk’ source.88

At the time when the Commission conducted its consultations with interstate law enforcement agencies, New South Wales and the Northern Territory were the only other Australian jurisdictions in which official police policies and procedures contained any specific guidance about the use of human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.

New South Wales Police’s Human Source Management Policy instructs that, if a lawyer or legal representative is to be registered as a human source, caution should be exercised to ensure that any information provided does not impinge upon or breach obligations of legal professional privilege. It also explains to officers what legal professional privilege is, its purpose and that it can only be waived by the client.89 Further information about this policy is contained in Chapter 12.

Northern Territory Police advised the Commission that its Human Source Management Instruction states that people bound by an obligation based in either legal or medical privilege cannot be used as human sources.90 This would not, however, prevent a lawyer or doctor from providing information that falls outside the scope of their professional obligations.

Agencies in Tasmania and Western Australia advised the Commission that policies addressing the issue were being developed.90 The policy under development by Western Australia Police is likely to require an elevated authorisation process for the recruitment of a human source with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.92

In the United Kingdom, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS)93 Code of Practice establishes a detailed process for approving access to and use of legally privileged or confidential information obtained from human sources.94

In the United States of America, at the federal level, the Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants introduced in the early 2000s state that special approval is required if federal law enforcement agencies wish to use human sources (referred to as ‘confidential informants’) ‘who are under the obligation of a legal privilege of confidentiality’.95 The Commission was unable to confirm whether this version of the guidelines is still current.

Permitted circumstances

In Victoria, if the specific purpose of using a human source is to obtain confidential or privileged information, or if police wish to use information that appears to have been provided in breach of a human source’s legal obligation of confidentiality or privilege, approval will only be given if there are ‘exceptional and compelling reasons’.96 Those reasons must relate to national security or the prevention of a serious threat to life or serious injury, and there must be no other reasonable means of obtaining the information.97 These provisions were inserted into the Human Source Policy in May 2020.98

In the United Kingdom, the use of any human source must be both necessary and proportionate to the aim of using the human source.99 The policy framework includes additional safeguards for the use of human sources where confidential or privileged information may be acquired.100 The requirements differ depending on whether the information is confidential or privileged in nature, and whether the use or conduct of the human source is intended or likely to obtain such information. The most stringent requirements apply where the use or conduct of a source is intended to obtain, provide access to or disclose legally privileged information. The authorisation of human sources in these circumstances requires prior notification to and approval of an independent Judicial Commissioner from the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office.101 An authorisation should only be sought where there are ‘exceptional and compelling circumstances that make the authorisation necessary’—for example, in the interests of national security.102

Under the available guidelines in the United States, at the federal level, no specific test appears to be applied to the decision about whether to register a human source under the ‘obligation of a legal privilege of confidentiality’. The decision is made by the Confidential Informant Review Committee based on information contained in reports about the person’s suitability to be registered as a source. However, the guidelines do prescribe a process for authorising a human source to engage in otherwise illegal activity if it is necessary for one of these reasons:

  • to obtain information or evidence essential for the success of an investigation that is not otherwise reasonably available
  • to prevent death, serious bodily injury or significant damage to property.103

In either case, the benefits to be obtained must outweigh the risks.104 This process cannot be used to obtain information that would be unlawful if conducted by a law enforcement agent (for example, illegal wiretapping, illegal opening or tampering with the mail, or trespass amounting to an illegal search).105

How police define legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege

The policies and processes in Victoria, New South Wales, the United Kingdom and the United States of America define legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege by reference to categories of sources, the nature of the information or a combination of both.

Since 2014, Victoria Police’s Human Source Policy has defined human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege by reference to the source’s occupation. In May 2020, the policy was amended to refer both to the occupation of the human source and the nature of information that may be obtained from a source.106 Police officers must follow a special approval process before they receive information from or consider approaching a person to whom a legal obligation of confidentiality or privilege may apply as a result of their occupation. These occupations are lawyers, doctors, parliamentarians, court officials, journalists and priests, and such people are classified as ‘Category 1’ sources in the policy.107 Police also need to follow this special approval process:

  • if a potential human source has a ‘connection to’ a lawyer, doctor, parliamentarian, court official or priest, and information may be obtained that would breach a legal obligation of confidentiality or privilege
  • if an active human source who is not subject to a legal obligation of confidentiality or privilege provides information that appears to be subject to a legal obligation of confidentiality or privilege.108

A person who has a ‘connection to’ a Category 1 occupation is someone who previously worked in a Category 1 occupation; is likely to receive confidential or privileged information from a person in a Category 1 occupation; or is in a similar occupation or role where they are likely to receive such information.109 The Human Source Policy does not provide any additional guidance to explain what roles or occupations may fall within ‘a similar occupation or role where they are likely to receive legally privileged or confidential information’.110

The Human Source Policy mandates that the decision to approach or approve a source in a Category 1 or connection to Category 1 occupation can only be made by the Victoria Police Human Source Ethics Committee—regardless of whether the information the person may be able to give to police appears to have been received in connection with their professional duties or whether it does in fact engage any legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.111

The occupations listed in Category 1 include those who owe obligations of privilege as well as confidentiality (lawyers, doctors, journalists and priests). The inclusion of parliamentarians and court officials appears to be in response to the Kellam Report, which listed them as examples of human sources who may have conflicting duties.112

In the United Kingdom, it is the confidential or privileged nature of the material or information obtained or likely to be obtained from a human source, rather than the professional status of the human source, that is the focus of the policy and associated safeguards. Examples of professions are provided as guidance:

Particular consideration should be given in cases where the subject of any intrusion might reasonably assume a high degree of confidentiality, or where confidential information is involved. Confidential information consists of matters subject to legal privilege, confidential personal information, confidential constituent information, or confidential journalistic material. So, for example, extra care should be taken where, through the use or conduct of a CHIS, it would be possible to acquire knowledge of discussions between a minister of religion and an individual relating to the latter’s spiritual welfare, or between a Member of Parliament and an individual or group of constituents relating to private constituency matters, or wherever matters of medical or journalistic confidentiality or legal privilege may be involved.113

The United Kingdom Code of Practice also addresses law enforcement agencies’ management of any information obtained from a human source that may be privileged. Agencies must consult with their legal adviser if they believe they have acquired information that is privileged. The legal adviser, rather than the investigating officer, determines whether the material is privileged, and, in cases of doubt, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office may be consulted.114

The approach outlined in the available federal United States guidelines considers both the professional status of a potential source and the nature of any information that might be provided. When initially assessing the suitability of a potential source, federal law enforcement officers must consider, among other things, whether the source is ‘a party to, or in a position to be a party to privileged communications (eg a member of the clergy, a physician, or a lawyer)’.115 Further, if the law enforcement agency, in conducting an investigation involving a human source, believes that the source ‘will obtain or provide information that is subject to, or arguably subject to, a legal privilege of confidentiality belonging to someone other than the [source]’, they must notify the attorney assigned to the matter in advance whenever possible.116

Issues and challenges

In light of the risks associated with police using human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege—or otherwise accessing confidential or privileged information—the Commission considered whether it is ever appropriate for police to seek out or use such sources or information, and, if so, in what circumstances and subject to what safeguards. A key question is: Can the risks be meaningfully mitigated given the complexity of the legal and policy issues involved?

In the sections below, the Commission outlines:

  • different views about the appropriateness of using human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • the challenges associated with identifying potentially confidential or privileged information.

The Commission primarily focused on the use of lawyers as human sources. The subject matter of its inquiry was one reason for this, but so were the potentially more significant consequences for the criminal justice system of using lawyers in this way. In particular, the accused person’s right to a fair trial is more likely to be impacted by the use of a lawyer as a human source than it is by using other categories of people with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege in this capacity.

The appropriateness of using human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege

Stakeholders consulted by the Commission expressed different views about the appropriateness of using lawyers and other professionals as human sources.

Several Australian law enforcement agencies supported policies enabling the potential use of lawyers and other professionals as human sources, arguing that their obligations of confidentiality and privilege can be identified and appropriately managed. They argued that it would not be reasonable to impose a blanket prohibition on a person acting as a human source simply because they had obligations of confidentiality or privilege arising from their occupation.117 Such a prohibition would hinder the provision of information that may be important for preventing a significant risk to the public or solving a very serious crime.118

Victoria Police stated that it may be appropriate to use a lawyer as a human source in some circumstances:

This can occur most obviously when the information that the person is giving has nothing to do with that person’s professional role. Also, Victoria Police’s current policy recognises that there may be situations of significant and immediate risk to public safety that can justify such use.119

Other stakeholders similarly noted that there may be limited circumstances in which a lawyer could act as a human source without compromising their obligations and duties—for example, if they were passing on information at the request of a client, or information obtained in their capacity as a private citizen, unconnected with their professional role.120

Victorian legal profession and regulatory bodies consulted by the Commission generally opposed the use of lawyers as human sources—both in respect of their clients and in relation to matters outside the scope of their practice—arguing that the nature of lawyers’ duties and obligations is inherently incompatible with their use as human sources.121

In their view, using a lawyer as a human source would risk:

  • undermining the lawyer–client relationship and the trust required to support that relationship
  • damaging the reputation of the legal profession overall, as clients may doubt that lawyers would treat their information as confidential
  • placing conflicting duties (to clients, the courts and law enforcement agencies) on lawyers, which they would have difficulty reconciling
  • creating unidentifiable conflicts of interest when representing a client who, unbeknown to the lawyer, was charged on the basis of information first derived from the lawyer—such a conflict of interest would be impossible to identify because human sources generally do not know how the information they provide is ultimately used
  • compromising a lawyer’s independence if they appear in a matter in opposition to a law enforcement agency with whom they also have a covert relationship.

The Criminal Bar Association emphasised the heightened risk of using a criminal lawyer as a human source, as compared to lawyers engaged in other areas of practice. The Association submitted that ‘there is no possible justification for counsel acting in a criminal matter to provide information to police unless strictly on instructions of the client’.122 To do so would create an inherent conflict of interest, and would prevent the lawyer from being able to act independently when opposed to law enforcement or regulatory authorities that they have covertly assisted in the past.123 It would also place the personal safety of the lawyer at risk, because unsuccessful defendants may suspect that their lawyer contributed to an adverse result in a criminal trial.124

The Victorian Bar also noted the significant burden that would be placed on police responsible for managing human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege ‘to ensure that professional standards are not compromised by virtue of that person’s status as an informer’.125 The Victorian Bar submitted that it would be practically impossible for law enforcement officers to discharge this responsibility satisfactorily in respect of human sources who are practising lawyers, and concluded that lawyers should not be used as human sources ‘in any circumstances in which there is a risk of a breach of professional obligation’.126

The Law Institute of Victoria expressed the view that it would never be appropriate for a lawyer to act as a human source, even if the information being provided to police related to their family or other contacts rather than to their clients. This is due to the risks that the information may still be subject to the duty of confidentiality; that the individual being informed on may believe they are in a lawyer–client relationship with the lawyer; and that the reputation of the profession may be damaged.127

The Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner (VLSB+C) similarly opposed lawyers disclosing information derived from social activities to police, but acknowledged that in the absence of a specific prohibition, law enforcement agencies may continue to consider registering and using lawyers as human sources. In their view, if this were to occur, it should be limited to matters wholly unconnected with the person’s practice as a lawyer.128

Several interstate legal profession bodies also concluded that it would be inappropriate to use lawyers as human sources in any circumstance, due to the centrality of obligations of confidentiality and privilege to the legal profession, and because it would be unacceptable to allow police to determine in which situations it would be appropriate to use lawyers as human sources.129

In light of the circumstances that led to the Commission’s inquiry, legal profession bodies in Victoria and New South Wales have published guidance for lawyers about their duty of confidentiality and the circumstances in which voluntarily providing information to police may be permissible.

The VLSB+C regulatory guideline titled Lawyer Conduct in Providing Information to the Police encourages lawyers to seek guidance from the Law Institute of Victoria or Victorian Bar ethics advisers if they are unsure about how to resolve competing obligations arising out of information they have received from or about their clients.130

Guidelines published by the New South Wales Bar Association provide unequivocal advice that ‘a barrister must never act as [a human source] against a current or former client’.131 The Association also concludes that acting as a human source against a non-client would risk compromising a barrister’s independence, especially if they practise in criminal proceedings or other matters touching on the operation of law enforcement agencies.132 The guidelines advise that a decision ‘to disclose threatened criminality for preventative purposes is largely a matter of professional conduct and ethics’.133 It suggests that any barrister wanting to take such action should first attempt to advise the client against the threatened conduct. If no satisfactory reassurance is received, they should then seek ethical guidance, discuss the proposed disclosure with the client (if safe to do so), explain the conflict of interest that has arisen and the need to withdraw from representing the client, assist the client to access alternative legal representation if possible, and cease acting for the client.134

Other options for clarifying the exceptions to lawyers’ duty of confidentiality, and stakeholders’ views about them, are discussed in Chapter 15.

Identifying legal obligations of confidentiality and privilege

The complex nature of legal obligations of confidentiality and privilege has implications for human source management at both a policy and an operational level. It is difficult to specify the full range of legal obligations and exceptions in official policies. It is equally challenging for individual officers to identify the precise legal constraints that apply to a human source or the information they hold, and to assess the risks of acquiring and using that information.

In many instances, it will be readily apparent that a human source has legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege in relation to the information provided—for example, when the source is a lawyer who is providing information obtained directly from an existing client while advising them about their legal position.

There will be other circumstances, however, in which it will be more difficult to determine whether legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege arise because:

  • it is unclear whether the human source is subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege in respect of the information being offered
  • it is unclear whether an exception to the source’s legal obligations applies
  • the source does not owe a relevant legal obligation to the person being informed on, but the information being provided may still be confidential or privileged.

In practice, it may be unrealistic to expect police officers to accurately determine the obligations of a potential human source, or the status of a category of information at face value. An assessment of whether particular legal principles apply generally requires the careful application of complex legal tests to the pertinent facts.

At the same time, given the risks that illegally or improperly obtained evidence can ultimately have for the outcome of a criminal prosecution, there is a strong imperative for police to understand and respect the boundaries of confidentiality and privilege when dealing with human sources.

Unclear application and scope of legal obligations

Although many relationships of confidentiality or privilege will be readily apparent, the breadth and complexity of the law relating to such obligations means that there is a lack of clarity about their existence or scope in any given circumstance.

Legal obligations to keep certain information confidential can arise in very specific contexts, such as government employees who are subject to secrecy obligations,135 or in very broad circumstances, such as when the equitable duty of confidence (discussed earlier in this chapter) applies.136

An equitable duty of confidence can be difficult to identify. In Australia, the test requires the court to ask whether the information is actually confidential and whether ‘a reasonable man in the position of the recipient would have recognised that the information was given to him in confidence’.137

The principles of equity have been used widely by courts to protect a range of relationships, including commercial, professional and personal relationships where the trust associated with confidentiality is necessary for the relationship to operate effectively.138 The broad range of equitable obligations adds to the complexity in identifying who has obligations of confidentiality.

As noted above, even if a human source falls into a category of professionals who generally owe legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege to their clients, their professional status alone may not necessarily determine whether the information they are providing is legally confidential or privileged.139

For example, the information may have no connection to their professional or legal obligations—instead, it might relate to family members or friends based purely on the human source’s personal knowledge and relationships, in their capacity as a private citizen. Nevertheless, while certain matters may ostensibly be within a professional’s personal knowledge, the circumstances in which they received that information may still carry an expectation of confidentiality (and even privilege), given broad community perceptions about the obligations professionals—such as lawyers and doctors—generally owe. A lawyer may be subject to an equitable obligation of confidence, and even an obligation of privilege, to a non-client, regardless of whether the lawyer considers this to be the case.140 For example, as evident in the case of Ms Gobbo, individuals might provide information to a lawyer in a personal or social context, yet still consider that the lawyer will keep the information confidential due to their professional obligations.

Other legal considerations may make it difficult to readily determine whether information is confidential or privileged:

  • Confidential information is not limited to information communicated by the client to the professional. It can also include information or opinions based on observations or assessments by the professional.141
  • How long an obligation of confidentiality must be observed depends on the professional relationship. For example, an obligation of confidentiality in professional relationships with lawyers, doctors and clergy may continue indefinitely; whereas in other cases, it may cease when the service contract comes to an end.142

The applicability of privilege will also depend on the precise terms of any legislative provisions establishing the privilege and the tests that have been developed by the courts concerning the privilege.

It may be challenging for a police officer to assess whether particular provisions apply to the information they have been given; for example, whether communications between a lawyer and their client were made for the ‘dominant purpose’ of seeking and providing legal advice. Further, the availability of some categories of privilege will depend on the nature of the legal proceeding in which disclosure of information may ultimately be sought. If, at the time when police are assessing the status of information, no legal proceedings are yet under way or contemplated, there may be uncertainty about whether the information should be regarded as privileged.

Unclear exceptions to legal obligations

A human source who owes legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege to clients may be able to provide information to police without breaching those obligations, if there is a recognised exception permitting or encouraging disclosure despite the obligations of confidentiality. This would be the case, for example, if the confidential or privileged information was within an unambiguous legislative exception or communicated for a criminal purpose, or where it is in the public interest to disclose the information to prevent injury or death. These exceptions are, however, seldom clear-cut.

Exceptions to a person’s legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege may exist at common law and in legislation, and may also be contained in codes of conduct. Sometimes, the exceptions may be too vague or ambiguous to apply swiftly in operational settings, have not yet been tested thoroughly in court, or rely on the professional’s judgement and interpretation of the exception. For instance, Australian courts have established no prescriptive rules as to what constitutes disclosure under ‘public interest’ grounds for doctors.143 Without clarity and certainty, a doctor in Australia must essentially make a professional judgement in each case as to whether they should disclose confidential information, a decision that could expose them to legal or disciplinary proceedings.144

Confidential information provided by human sources not subject to direct legal obligations

As noted above, circumstances may arise where police are dealing with a human source who does not owe any direct legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege to the person being informed on, but who nevertheless has access to, and is in a position to provide police with, information that is itself confidential or privileged. In these circumstances, there may be restrictions on what the recipient of the information is permitted to do with it.

For example, if a person accompanies a friend to a meeting with the friend’s lawyer for the purpose of the friend receiving legal advice, the person will become privy to information that is confidential and privileged. Although the person does not owe obligations of confidentiality or privilege to their friend (these are owed by the lawyer), there may be legal consequences if they disclose confidential or privileged information to others—for example, a court could order an injunction preventing further disclosure of the information, or order that the person to whom it was disclosed destroy all records of it in their possession.

In these circumstances, police may not be alerted by the occupation or role of the human source to consider whether the information the source provides is likely to be confidential or privileged, yet acquiring and using that information may jeopardise an investigation or prosecution if it turns out that using it is illegal or improper.

Accordingly, policies or procedures that rely solely or predominantly on the obligations or duties of the human source arising out of their professional or other employment arrangements may not necessarily explicitly capture all individuals with the potential to access and divulge confidential or privileged information. Therefore, they may fail to protect against the inappropriate use of confidential or privileged information in these circumstances.

Conclusion

Having considered the risks associated with using lawyers and other professionals with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege as human sources, the Commission has formed the view that their future use should be restricted and subject to strict requirements and safeguards.

In particular, the Commission considers that it is almost never appropriate for police to use a lawyer as a human source to provide information about their own client. This is because it is highly likely that doing so would undermine the fundamental purpose of the lawyer–client relationship, jeopardise the client’s right to a fair hearing, and interfere with the proper administration of justice.

The Commission has stopped short of recommending a complete prohibition on using lawyers and other professionals with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege as human sources. It accepts that there may be limited circumstances in which the use of such sources may be justified—for example, when there is a compelling public interest reason for acquiring and using the information, there is an unambiguous exception to the duty of confidentiality or privilege, and/or the source is providing information they have come by well beyond the scope of their professional obligations.

Even if one of these limited circumstances arises, justifying this use of lawyers and other professionals as human sources raises very complex legal and ethical questions. As evident in Ms Gobbo’s case, it also increases the potential for significant consequences—for individual rights and for the integrity of the criminal justice system. Accordingly, as noted above, any decision to use such a human source must, in the Commission’s view, be subject to strict requirements and safeguards. Police working in human source management must be vigilant in identifying whether a potential human source may be subject to relevant legal obligations, or whether the information the source is likely to provide may be legally confidential or privileged. They must also proactively consider the ultimate implications of using the source. Among other things, such implications may include compromising an investigation or the proper administration of justice, potentially resulting in a prosecution being withdrawn, a trial being stayed or an appeal against conviction being brought on the basis that a substantial miscarriage of justice has occurred.

The use of human sources where legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege exist must be limited to circumstances where access to the information the source possesses has been assessed as being necessary and proportionate to the aim of using the source. There would need to be a robust risk assessment to determine whether the need for the confidential or privileged information was so great that it outweighed the risks associated with obtaining and/or using it. As set out in Chapters 12 and 13, the Commission considers that a senior Victoria Police officer would need to authorise the use of any human source who is reasonably expected to have access to confidential or privileged information, after having considered the recommendation of an external and independent agency. In addition, if Victoria Police was seeking to use a human source with the intention of obtaining confidential or privileged information, it would need to establish that there were exceptional and compelling reasons for doing so—for example, to avert a risk to the community or the safety of a person, in circumstances where the information cannot be obtained by any other reasonable means.

The Commission recognises the practical challenges in identifying and navigating legal obligations of confidentiality and privilege. These obligations are broad and intricate. Therefore, the Commission also proposes measures to build the capacity of those working within human source management, and to make seeking legal advice more routine. In particular, detailed training and guidance should be provided to police officers about:

  • identifying people who are likely to be subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • determining whether information likely to be provided by any human source may be legally confidential or privileged.

The Commission’s conclusions and recommendations about how to avoid (or, when appropriate, to manage) the risks associated with using human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, and with acquiring in other ways information that is confidential or privileged, are detailed in Chapters 12–15.

Endnotes

1 Commonwealth v John Fairfax & Sons (1980) 147 CLR 39; Moorgate Tobacco Co Ltd v Philip Morris Ltd (No 2) (1984) 156 CLR 414; Coco v AN Clark (Engineers) Ltd [1968] FSR 415.

2 J Pizer, ‘The Public Interest Exception to the Breach of Confidence Action: Are the Lights About to Change?’ (1994) 20(1) Monash University Law Review 66, 98.

3 Commonwealth v John Fairfax & Sons (1980) 147 CLR 39, 50-51.

4 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [18.1].

5 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.1].

6 P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 318.

7 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.13].

8 P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 321.

9 P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 318.

10 Parry-Jones v Law Society [1969] 1 Ch 1 [9]; Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.38], [9.18]–[9.42]; P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 321–2.

11 See, eg, Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, Cabinet Handbook, January 2019, 27–8; Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) s 28; John Waugh, ‘Contempt of Parliament in Victoria’ (2005) 26 Adelaide Law Review 29, 37; Victorian Public Service Commission, Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees (2015) 21.

12 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.6].

13 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.6].

14 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.31]; D Chaikin, ‘Adapting the Qualifications to the Banker’s Common Law Duty of Confidentiality to Fight Transnational Crime’ (2011) 33 Sydney Law Review 265, 269. See also Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board, About APESB (Web Page, 2015) < www.apesb.org.au/page.php?id=2&gt;.

15 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.6]–[9.10]; P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 318.

16 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.44].

17 P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 318.

18 Australian Law Reform Commission, Australian Privacy Law and Practice (Report 108, August 2010). A person may also sue in tort for a breach of duty, although contract and equity are the more common sources of remedy: see Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.28].

19 Parry-Jones v Law Society [1968] 1 All ER 177.

20 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.23]–[1.24].

21 Crown Resorts Ltd v Zantran Pty Ltd (2020) 374 ALR 739 [24]; Smorgon v Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (1976) 134 CLR 475, 488–9 (Stephen J).

22 See, eg, Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 9; Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.23]–[1.24].

23 Commonwealth v Fairfax (1980) 147 CLR 39, 21, citing Lord Ashburton v Pope (1913) 2 Ch 469, 475 (Swinfen Eady LJ). See also Coco v AN Clark (Engineers) Ltd [1968] FSR 415.

24 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.4].

25 Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, Confidentiality of Medical Records and Medical Research (Discussion Paper, Project No 65—Part II, 1989) [3.3].

26 Parry-Jones v Law Society [1968] 1 All ER 177; Australian Law Reform Commission, Australian Privacy Law and Practice (Report 108, 2006) [15.127]; Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, Confidentiality of Medical Records and Medical Research (Discussion Paper, Project No 65—Part II, 1989) [3.5]–[3.6].

27 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s 13. As with other rights under the Charter, the right to privacy may be subject to reasonable limits: s 7(2).

28 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s 38.

29 See, eg, Australian Medical Association Code of Ethics 2004 (Editorially Revised 2006. Revised 2016).

30 Subordinate legislation is a rule, regulation or other instrument made under the authority of an Act. See, eg, Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria) Act 2009 (Vic) s 4.

31 Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 9.1; Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 r 114.

32 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.44].

33 Parry-Jones v Law Society [1969] 1 Ch 1 [9].

34 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [12.7], [12.9]–[12.11].

35 Gartside v Outram (1856) 26 LJ Ch (NS) 113, 114. See Crown Resorts Ltd v Zantran Pty Ltd (2020) 374 ALR 739 [28]–[34], which outlines the Australian development of the relevant legal principles following Gartside v Outram.

36 Commonwealth v Helicopter Resources Pty Ltd (2020) 377 ALR 191 [20]; A v Hayden (1984) 156 CLR 532, 543–4, 553, 555.

37 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [11.27]. See also A v Hayden (1984) 156 CLR 532, 545–6; R v Lowe [1997] 2 VR 465, 485 [25].

38 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [11.24] (citations omitted).

39 Gofram Pty Ltd v KPMG Peat Marwick (1993) 27 IPR 215, 222.

40 A v Hayden (1984) 156 CLR 532, 546–7 (Gibbs CJ).

41 See Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [12.14]–[12.19]; Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015 r 9.2.5. 

42 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [12.16], [12.19].

43 A v Hayden (1984) 156 CLR 532; Corrs Pavey Whiting & Byrne v Collector of Customs (1987) 14 FCR 434 at 454–5.

44 See generally J Pizer, ‘The Public Interest Exception to the Breach of Confidence Action: Are the Lights About to Change?’ (1994) 20(1) Monash University Law Review 67, 69.

45 See generally John Heydon, Mark Leeming and Peter Turner, Meagher, Gummow and Lehane: Equity Doctrines and Remedies (LexisNexis Butterworths, 5th ed, 2015) [42-160]–[42-189].

46 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [12.20].

47 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [12.12].

48 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 118–119; Daniels Corporation International Pty Ltd v Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2002) 213 CLR 543 [11].

49 Glencore International AG v Federal Commissioner of Taxation (2019) 93 ALJR 967 [21]; Daniels Corporation International Pty Ltd v Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2002) 213 CLR 543 [11], [44].

50 Esso Australia Resources v Commissioner of Taxation (1999) 201 CLR 49 [35] (Gleeson CJ, Gaudron and Gummow JJ).

51 Explanatory Memorandum, Evidence Bill 2008 (Vic) cl 117.

52 See Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 117–126.

53 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 118.

54 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 119.

55 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 118–119.

56 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 117(1) (definition of ‘confidential communication’ and ‘confidential document’).

57 Kang v Kwan [2001] NSWSC 698 [30] (Santow J); Tuckiar v The King (1934) 52 CLR 335, 346 (Gavan Duffy CJ, Dixon, Evatt, McTiernan JJ); Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Citibank Ltd (1989) 20 FCR 403, 414–15 (Bowen CJ); Commissioner of Australian Federal Police v Propend Finance Pty Ltd (1997) 188 CLR 501, 589 (Kirby J); Ott v Fleishman [1983] 5 WWR 721, 724 (McEachern CJSC). See also Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.17].

58 Brookfield Multiplex Limited v International Litigation Funding Partners Pte Ltd (No 2) 256 ALR 416, 422–3 [19]–[22].

59 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 122; Mann v Carnell (1999) 201 CLR 1 [28].

60 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 122; Mann v Carnell(1999) 201 CLR 1 [29]; AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350 [103].

61 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 122; AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350 [108].

62 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 125(1). The Evidence Actdoes not require a person to be knowingly involved in the fraud, offence or act that renders a person liable to a civil penalty: see Amcor Limited v Barnes [2011] VSC 341. As to abuse of power, see Kang v Kwan [2001] NSWSC 698 [37], [42]–[45] (Santow J).

63 Royal Women’s Hospital v Medical Practitioners Board [2005] VSC 225; Kemp v Medical Board of Australia [2017] VSC 691. This privilege is available is much more limited circumstances than doctor–patient confidentiality. See Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [18.22].

64 Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) s 28.

65 Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) s 28(2).

66 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [18.39].

67 A ‘registered medical practitioner’ is defined as a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the medical profession (other than as a student): Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) s 32B.

68 A ‘counsellor’ is defined as a person who is treating another person for an emotional or psychological condition: Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) s 32B.

69 Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) s 32C. A ‘legal proceeding’ includes ‘any civil criminal or mixed proceeding and any inquiry in which evidence is or may be given before any court or person acting judicially including a Royal Commission or Board of Inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 3(1).

70 Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) s 32D.

71 Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) s 32D(2).

72 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 126J, 126K. The Evidence Act uses the term ‘informant’ to refer to a journalist’s source—this is distinct from the use of the term ‘informant’ to describe a human source, or a police officer who compiles the brief of evidence in a prosecution.

73 Victoria, Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly, 7 June 2012, 2660 (Robert Clark, Attorney-General). See also Parliamentary Library Research Service, Parliament of Victoria, Evidence Amendment (Journalist Privilege) Bill 2012 (Research Brief No 5, 2012) 10.

74 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 126K(1), 131A. The privilege applies to search warrants as well as court-related disclosure procedures. Search warrants are not included in the equivalent Commonwealth provisions: see Evidence Act 1995 (Cth) s 131A(2); Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Kane (No 2) [2020] FCA 133.

75 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 126J.

76 Parliamentary Library Research Service, Parliament of Victoria, Evidence Amendment (Journalist Privilege) Bill 2012 (Research Brief No 5, 2012) 10.

77 Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Kane (No 2) [2020] FCA 133 [213], referring to the substantially equivalent provisions in the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth).

78 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 126K(2)(a)–(b).

79 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 127(1).

80 Evidence Act 2008(Vic) s 127(4).

81 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [18.54], quoting JM Yellin, ‘The History and Current Status of the Clergy–Penitent Privilege’ (1983) 23 Santa Clara Law Review 95, 148.

82 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 127(2). The specific offences in relation to which the privilege does not apply are those are against s 184 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) and s 327(2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

83 See Strickland v DPP (Cth) (2018) 93 ALJR 1 [246]–[247]; AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [146], [151]–[153], citing R v Grant [2006] QB 60, Warren v Attorney-General for Jersey [2012] 1 AC 22 [35]–[36].

84 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350 [152] (Ginnane J).

85 Exhibit RC1538 Statement of Inspector Ilena Pucar, 7 May 2020, 1 [1.3]. Victoria Police did not give the Commission access to these procedures on the basis that they considered them to be outside the scope of the Commission’s terms of reference: Letter from solicitors for Victoria Police to Solicitors Assisting the Commission, 2 March 2020.

86 Exhibit RC1538 Statement of Inspector Ilena Pucar, 7 May 2020, 7-8 [6.1]–[6.12].

87 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 29–31 [8.3]–[8.6].

88 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 29 [8.4].

89 New South Wales Police, Human Source Management Policy (2019).

90 Consultation with Northern Territory Police, 4 March 2020. Northern Territory Police may consider accepting information from a person subject to legal obligations of privilege if there would be a risk to the community if the information was not used, but in these circumstances the person would be treated as a one-off ‘complainant’ and would not be registered as a human source. The decision about whether to use the information would be made by a group of people: Consultation with Northern Territory Police, 4 March 2020.

91 Consultation with Western Australia Police, 24 September 2019; Consultation with Tasmania Police, 12 September 2019.

92 Consultation with Western Australia Police, 24 September 2019.

93 ‘Covert human intelligence sources’ is the term used to refer to human sources in the United Kingdom.

94 See Home Office (UK), Covert Human Intelligence Source Revised Code of Practice (August 2018) and Scottish Government, Covert Human Intelligence Source Code of Practice (December 2017), made under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (UK) and Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 (UK), respectively. The Covert Human Intelligence Source Code of Practice that applies in Scotland largely replicates the provisions of the United Kingdom Covert Human Intelligence Source Revised Code of Practice. For ease of reference, the Commission has focused primarily on the statutory framework set by the RIPA. 

95 Department of Justice (USA), The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants (2002).

96 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 31 [8.6].

97 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 31 [8.6].

98 The Human Source Policy was finalised in April 2020 but came into effect in May 2020.

99 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (UK) ss 29(2)–(3).

100 Definitions of ‘matters subject to legal privilege’, ‘confidential personal information’ and ‘confidential journalistic material’ are set out in Police Act 1997 (UK) ss 98–100.

101 Home Office (UK), Covert Human Intelligence Source Revised Code of Practice (August 2018) 48.

102 Home Office (UK), Covert Human Intelligence Source Revised Code of Practice (August 2018) 49.

103 Department of Justice (USA), The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants (2002) 20–1.

104 Department of Justice (USA), The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants (2002) 21.

105 Department of Justice (USA), The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants (2002) 22.

106 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020.

107 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 29 [8.3].

108 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 19 [5.3].

109 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 29–30 [8.3]–[8.5].

110 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 30 [8.5].

111 Exhibit RC1531b Victoria Police Manual—Human Sources, 15 April 2020, 29 [8.3]–[8.4].

112 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 86 (Recommendation 1(b)). The inclusion of parliamentarians in the Kellam Report appears to have been based on a similar recommendation made in the Comrie Review (Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012)), which was in turn informed by advice from the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office (VGSO) (Letter of advice from VGSO to Superintendent Steve Gleeson, 6 June 2012). The VGSO had advised that Members of Parliament may have obligations to maintain the confidentiality of cabinet deliberations, or of information provided to a parliamentary committee prior to it being considered or made public by that committee.

113 Home Office (UK), Covert Human Intelligence Source Revised Code of Practice (August 2018) 43–4.

114 Home Office (UK), Covert Human Intelligence Source Revised Code of Practice (August 2018) 52.

115 Department of Justice (USA), The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants (2002) 8.

116 Department of Justice (USA), The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants (2002) 26.

117 Consultation with Western Australia Police, 24 September 2019; Consultation with South Australia Police, 6 September 2019; Consultation with Queensland Police, 8 October 2019. See also Submission 144a Victoria Police, 4 [19].

118 Consultation with Western Australia Police, 24 September 2019. See also Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 71 [11.8].

119 Exhibit RC1529b Statement of Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam, 16 April 2020, 96 [413].

120 Consultation with Bar Association of Queensland, 2 September 2019; Consultation with Australian Capital Territory Bar Association, 24 October 2019; Consultation with Northern Territory Police, 4 March 2020.

121 Submission 091 Victorian Bar, 5–6; Submission 097 Criminal Bar Association, 2; Submission 112 Victoria Legal Aid, 2–3; Submission 116 Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, 11.

122 Submission 097 Criminal Bar Association, 2.

123 Submission 097 Criminal Bar Association, 2. See also Submission 091 Victorian Bar, 5.

124 Submission 097 Criminal Bar Association, 3.

125 Submission 091 Victorian Bar, 5.

126 Submission 091 Victorian Bar, 6.

127 Consultation with Law Institute of Victoria, 15 January 2020.

128 Consultation with Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, 8 January 2020.

129 Consultation with the New South Wales Office of Legal Services Commissioner, 26 August 2019; Consultation with the Northern Territory Bar Association, 31 October 2019.

130 Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, Lawyer Conduct in Providing Information to Police (Regulatory Guideline, 2020) 2.

131 New South Wales Bar Association, Guidance for NSW Barristers in the wake of the matter of Lawyer X, 7.

132 New South Wales Bar Association, Guidance for NSW Barristers in the wake of the matter of Lawyer X, 8.

133 New South Wales Bar Association, Guidance for NSW Barristers in the wake of the matter of Lawyer X, 26.

134 New South Wales Bar Association, Guidance for NSW Barristers in the wake of the matter of Lawyer X, 26, 32 [86].

135 See, eg, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth) s 18; Criminal Code Act (Cth) s 122.4A.

136 Coco v AN Clark (Engineers) Ltd [1968] FSR 415, 419 (Megarry J).

137 Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Games Meats Pty Ltd (2001) 208 CLR 199 [30], citing Coco v AN Clark (Engineers) Ltd [1968] FSR 415, 420–1 (Megarry J).

138 K Koomen, ‘Breach of Confidence and the Public Interest Defence: Is It in the Public Interest? A Review of the English Public Interest Defence and the Options for Australia’ (1994) 10 Queensland University of Technology Law Journal56, 56.

139 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.14].

140 Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [9.14], [9.24]–[9.26]. See also Brookfield Multiplex Limited v International Litigation Funding Partners Pte Ltd (No 2) 256 ALR 416, 422–3 [19]–[22]; Apple Computer Australia Pty Ltd v Wily [2002] NSWSC 855, [11] (Barrett J).

141 P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 321.

142 National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd v Godrich (1909) 10 CLR 1, 36; Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [1.2]; P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 321. See also Commissioner of Police v Ombudsman [1985] 1 NZLR 578, 586 (Jeffries J).

143 P Finn, ‘Professionals and Confidentiality’ (1992) 14 Sydney Law Review 317, 327; Gino Dal Pont, Law of Confidentiality (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015) [12.17].

144 Danuta Mendelson, ‘“Mr Cruel” and the Medical Duty of Confidentiality’ (1993) 1(2) Journal of Law and Medicine 120, 129.


Chapter 5

Legal principles guiding the inquiry

Introduction

The Commission’s terms of reference required both an investigation of certain past events (terms of reference 1 and 2), and an examination of current processes relating to the use of human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, with a view to recommending measures to avoid any identified failures in the future (terms of reference 3–5).1 This chapter looks at how the Commission approached its investigative functions in relation to past events.

The Commission’s two primary investigative functions were to inquire into and report on:

  • the number of cases that may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Nicola Gobbo as a human source and the extent to which they have been affected (term of reference 1)
  • the conduct of current and former Victoria Police officers in their disclosures about and recruitment, handling and management of Ms Gobbo as a human source (term of reference 2).

These two functions were inextricably linked. Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a human source could only properly be understood by analysing the way in which Victoria Police recruited, handled and managed her in that capacity. Equally, the conduct of Victoria Police and its officers in their use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and the non-disclosure of that fact, linked directly to whether cases may have been affected.

Undertaking the Commission’s primary investigative functions entailed a factual exercise—establishing who did what and when. It also entailed a legal exercise—determining whether the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police may have ‘affected’ cases in which they were involved, and whether that conduct may have breached or fallen short of the conduct that their legal, ethical and professional duties demanded.

Importantly, the Commission’s role was not to make binding or conclusive determinations about whether individual cases were in fact affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police. This is the role of the courts. Instead, after having considered the evidence it was able to assemble, the Commission has identified how individual cases may have been affected.

Nor was it the Commission’s role to find any individual guilty of a criminal offence or of professional misconduct. This is the role of investigatory and prosecution agencies. As will become apparent later in this report, the Commission has, however, concluded that the conduct of Ms Gobbo and certain Victoria Police officers breached or fell short of the requirements of their professional duties. Drawing on the evidence and complete, unredacted submissions made by Counsel Assisting the Commission and parties, the Commission is satisfied that the allegations about the conduct of Ms Gobbo and certain Victoria Police officers warrant a comprehensive and independent investigation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring any criminal charges and, in the case of certain current Victoria Police officers, any disciplinary action.

This chapter explains the legal principles that guided the Commission’s investigative functions, and how the Commission applied those principles to define the parameters of its inquiry and the nature of its findings. Specifically, it outlines:

  • the key legal principles that apply to appeals in criminal proceedings and that informed the Commission’s deliberations regarding whether individual cases may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a human source
  • the laws and legal principles that apply to the conduct of lawyers and police officers and that informed the Commission’s assessment of the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police officers
  • the Commission’s role and approach to the consideration of potential findings of criminal conduct and other misconduct, including how it identified potentially affected cases and afforded parties procedural fairness.

These matters are set out in turn below.

The Commission’s analysis and findings in relation to its investigative functions are contained in Chapters 7, 8 and 9 of this final report.

This chapter should also be read in conjunction with Chapter 2, which outlines key concepts and legal principles that underpin the criminal justice system, and Chapter 3, which explains the processes that the Commission followed in conducting the inquiry.

The Commission was tasked with identifying the number of cases that ‘may have been affected’ by the conduct of Ms Gobbo as a human source (and, by extension, the related conduct of Victoria Police officers), and the extent to which those cases may have been affected. The Letters Patent establishing the Commission noted that appeal proceedings had been brought by three individuals whose convictions were alleged to have been affected by Ms Gobbo’s conduct, and that it was anticipated that other cases may have been affected and further proceedings could be commenced.

Notably, at the time of finalising this report, the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria had already determined two such appeals: those of Mr Faruk Orman and Mr Zlate Cvetanovski.2

In Orman v The Queen, the Court of Appeal concluded that Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a human source while acting as Mr Orman’s lawyer ‘subverted Mr Orman’s right to a fair trial, and went to the very foundations of the system of a criminal trial. There was, accordingly, a substantial miscarriage of justice’.3 The Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) conceded that in her role as a human source, Ms Gobbo pursued the presentation of the principal evidence against Mr Orman on the charge of murder. The Court allowed the appeal, set aside the conviction, declined to order a re-trial, and ordered a judgment of acquittal (not guilty) be entered for Mr Orman.4

In Cvetanovski v The Queen, the Court of Appeal found that there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice in Mr Cvetanovksi’s trial for drug trafficking, and set aside his conviction.5 The miscarriage of justice related to the non-disclosure, at the trial, of information about the key witness who gave evidence against Mr Cvetanovski. As conceded by the DPP, Ms Gobbo, who was Mr Cvetanovski’s lawyer, had been providing information to police in her role as a human source, had persuaded the key witness in the trial to give evidence against her client, and had (along with Victoria Police) been providing financial assistance to the witness. The Court allowed the appeal, set aside the conviction, declined to order a re-trial and ordered a judgment of acquittal be entered for Mr Cvetanovski.6

The Court of Appeal considered the particular circumstances leading to Mr Orman’s and Mr Cvetanovski’s convictions only. Other cases may have been affected in different ways, according to their own facts and circumstances. It will be for the Court of Appeal to decide in any future appeals whether the facts and circumstances of those cases have given rise to a substantial miscarriage of justice.

As discussed in Chapter 1, in AB & EF v CD, the Supreme Court of Victoria decision relating to the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and the DPP’s proposed disclosure of information to seven potentially affected individuals, Justice Ginnane concluded that the potentially affected individuals in those cases had an argument that their convictions involved a substantial miscarriage of justice:

The possible grounds include that because of the conduct of Victoria Police and [Ms Gobbo], they did not receive a trial as required by the criminal justice system and that the trials involved an abuse of process, because their legal counsel did not provide independent advice. The requirements of a fair trial include that counsel will provide independent advice to a client and will not have separate obligations to the police who have brought the prosecution.7

In this context, and as noted later in this chapter, the Commission interpreted the phrase ‘may have been affected’ in term of reference 1 as referring to whether the conduct in question provided a reasonably arguable ground of appeal against conviction in a particular case, and more specifically whether it could have caused a substantial miscarriage of justice.

The following section outlines some of the key principles that apply to appeals in criminal proceedings and types of error in the trial process that may result in a successful appeal. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive summary of the law relating to appeals, but refers to principles and past decisions that are likely to be relevant to the events under examination by the Commission, and that have informed the Commission’s deliberations.

Appeal processes and grounds

The appeal process is a fundamental feature of our criminal justice system—it allows for any substantive or procedural errors in the trial process to be identified and remedied. In doing so, it promotes the safety of verdicts, adherence to fair trial principles, and the integrity of the justice system as whole. Fair trial principles and their role in upholding the integrity of the justice system are explained in Chapter 2.

The law provides for convictions and sentences to be reviewed and overturned if certain matters are established. The precise processes, grounds and outcomes differ according to whether an individual is appealing against their conviction (including for a second or subsequent time), making a petition for mercy (which is referred to the Court of Appeal for determination as an appeal), or appealing against their sentence.

This chapter focuses on the principles underpinning appeals against conviction, as that is the pathway likely to be of most direct relevance to any person whose case may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police.8

Broadly, the court hearing an appeal against conviction or a referral of a petition of mercy is required to determine whether there has been a ‘substantial miscarriage of justice’. This concept is explained below.

In Victoria, a convicted person may, with leave, appeal to the Court of Appeal against their conviction under section 274 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic). On a successful appeal, the Court of Appeal can order a new trial, enter a judgment of acquittal, or substitute the original conviction with a conviction for a different offence.9

The Court of Appeal must allow the appeal if the appellant (the person lodging the appeal) satisfies the court that:

  • the verdict of the jury is unreasonable or cannot be supported having regard to the evidence
  • there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice as the result of an error or an irregularity in, or in relation to, the trial
  • there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice for any other reason.10

The first of these grounds has limited application to the circumstances the Commission considered. The following sections therefore focus on the second and third grounds.

Substantial miscarriage of justice

There is no single or universal definition of what amounts to a substantial miscarriage of justice for the purpose of a criminal appeal.11 The circumstances giving rise to a substantial miscarriage of justice are ‘too numerous and too different to permit prescription of a single test’.12 Generally, however, a substantial miscarriage of justice will concern a departure from or interference with the rules, principles or processes that underpin the integrity of the criminal justice system, rather than an assessment of the appellant’s guilt or innocence:

… the integrity of the criminal process is the most important consideration for courts which have to hear appeals against conviction. Both the innocent and the guilty are entitled to fair trials. If the trial process is not fair; if it is distracted by deceit or by material breaches of the rules of evidence or procedure, then the liberties of all are threatened.13

In this way, there is a strong link between the notion of a substantial miscarriage of justice and fair trial principles. Circumstances in which an accused person has been deprived of a fair trial may amount to a substantial miscarriage of justice, and in turn result in a successful appeal against conviction.14 Similarly, circumstances found to be an abuse of the court’s process may also amount to a substantial miscarriage of justice.15

Conduct that undermines public confidence in the administration of justice may also provide grounds for an appeal against conviction. The principle that ‘justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done’ requires courts, lawyers and State agencies such as the police to ensure the courts’ processes are used fairly.16 It also requires lawyers and investigating authorities to perform their functions with due regard to their legal duties and obligations.17

Even if the Court of Appeal concludes that a conviction was inevitable—that is, that the jury would have convicted the accused person even if the error or irregularity in question had not occurred—the appeal may still succeed if the court finds that the error or irregularity amounted to a substantial miscarriage of justice.18

Challenging the integrity of a guilty plea after conviction

An appeal against a conviction may still succeed even if the appellant pleaded guilty at first instance,19 although they must demonstrate ‘very exceptional circumstances’.20 The appellant must show that their guilty plea was not due to a consciousness of guilt but instead was due to another objective factor.21

Factors that may satisfy a court that there has been a miscarriage of justice relating to a guilty plea include a failure to provide adequate advice to the accused person about the nature of the charges,22 and applying improper pressure on the accused person to plead guilty.23

In AB & EF v CD, Justice Ginnane observed that there is ‘a duty on legal practitioners and others associated with prosecutions not to do anything that corrupts or subverts the administration of justice, and … a conviction following a guilty plea can also be quashed by application of that principle’.24 This conclusion was endorsed by the Court of Appeal in AB v CD & EF.25

The right of appeal in these circumstances reflects the importance of ensuring that an accused person has sound and independent legal advice and is not deprived of free choice when deciding whether to plead guilty or not guilty.26

Examples of conduct and circumstances that may amount to a substantial miscarriage of justice

As noted above, there are numerous factors that may amount to a substantial miscarriage of justice. They range from an inadvertent failure to observe an apparently minor procedural requirement, right through to deliberate misconduct by those responsible for upholding the proper administration of justice. In some instances, the fact that a procedural or other error has occurred may, in and of itself, be sufficient to set aside a conviction (such as an error in selecting a jury).27 In others, it may be the failure to disclose the error or other impropriety to the accused person, depriving them of the opportunity to raise an objection to the issue or to take steps to adopt a different approach to the trial.

This section outlines some of the factors that courts have previously found sufficient to allow an appeal against a conviction and that are relevant to the matters under consideration by the Commission (noting that some of the cases were decided in jurisdictions other than Victoria).

Circumstances found to have constituted a substantial miscarriage of justice include:

  • issues relating to the accused person’s legal representation, such as the incompetence of their lawyer, their lawyer breaching their duties to the court and to the client, or a perception that their lawyer may not have been acting independently, in the client’s best interests
  • failure by the prosecution to disclose all relevant information to the defence
  • inequality of arms; for example, where the prosecution had possession of information that was wrongfully provided to it
  • where evidence used in the trial was improperly or illegally obtained
  • where there is fresh evidence that, if it had been available to the jury, is likely to have resulted in an acquittal.

These matters are discussed in turn below.

Deprivation of competent and independent counsel

As discussed in Chapter 2, an important element of an accused person’s right to a fair trial is the right to legal representation. A lack of competent and/or independent legal representation at trial may provide grounds for a successful appeal against conviction if it can be shown that this deficiency resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice.

Absence of legal representation

In cases involving serious offences, a trial may be unfair if the accused person does not have legal representation. In Dietrich v The Queen, the High Court of Australia concluded that there had been a miscarriage of justice because the accused person did not have legal representation at the trial, and ordered that his conviction be set aside and that he be granted a new trial.28

Errors and omissions by defence counsel

The manner in which defence counsel conducted the trial may be relevant to whether the trial was a fair one:

In some cases, the conduct of counsel may be such that it has deprived the accused of a fair trial according to law. If the conduct of counsel has resulted in an unfair trial, that of itself constitutes a miscarriage of justice… [T]he failure of counsel to conduct the defence properly is inconsistent with the notion of a fair trial according to law.29

In general, an accused person is bound by the way in which their counsel conducted the trial; however:

… there may arise cases where something has occurred in the running of a trial, perhaps as the result of ‘flagrant incompetence’ of counsel, or perhaps from some other cause, which will be recognised as involving, or causing, a miscarriage of justice. It is impossible, and undesirable, to attempt to define such cases with precision. When they arise they will attract appellate intervention.30

Acts and omissions (failures to act) by defence counsel may, in some circumstances, be found to have led to a substantial miscarriage of justice.31 A court is unlikely to allow an appeal on this basis if the conduct complained of was undertaken for a legitimate forensic purpose.32 If, however, the conduct complained of relates to something other than a forensic choice, there is a higher likelihood that an appeal will succeed.33 Such conduct might include a critical error such as omitting to call a material witness, failing to argue that certain evidence should be excluded, introducing evidence that was prejudicial to the accused person’s interests, or not pursuing available arguments about the prosecution’s case.34

In Nudd v The Queen, Justice Kirby observed that errors by counsel may occur as a result of inexperience, a failure to study the applicable law, or ‘in some cases, personal characteristics that render that practitioner prone to misbehaviour, ineptitude or inattention’.35 His Honour further noted that:

Sometimes, rarely, the misbehaviour, errors or incompetence in the legal representation of an accused at trial may be so egregious, frequent or obvious as, without more, to amount to a miscarriage of justice.36

Breach of duties to the court and client

In light of the central role that the legal profession plays in upholding the proper administration of justice, a breach of a lawyer’s duties to the court or their client (including the duties not to mislead the court, to maintain privilege and to avoid conflicts of interest) may cause or contribute to a miscarriage of justice.

In Tuckiar v The King, the High Court set aside the accused person’s conviction for murder (and death sentence) for several reasons, including that his lawyer had, in breach of his professional duties, disclosed privileged communications with the accused person to the trial judge in private and openly in court.37 The Court described the actions of the lawyer as ‘wholly indefensible’ and ‘a grave mistake’, which contributed to the trial miscarrying.38 The Court observed that:

It was [the lawyer’s] paramount duty to respect the privilege attaching to the communication made to him as counsel … he was not entitled to divulge what he had learnt from the prisoner as his counsel. Our system of administering justice necessarily imposes upon those who practise advocacy duties which have no analogies, and the system cannot dispense with their strict observance.39

As noted above, in Orman v The Queen, the Court of Appeal concluded that in pursuing the presentation of the principal evidence against her own client, Ms Gobbo’s conduct was self-evidently ‘a fundamental breach of her duties to Mr Orman and to the Court’.40 Her actions subverted Mr Orman’s right to a fair trial, went to the very foundations of the system of criminal trial, and accordingly, resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice.41

Perceived deprivation of independent counsel

In R v Szabo, the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Queensland allowed an appeal against conviction on the basis that the failure of the defence barrister to disclose to his client that he had previously had an intimate relationship with the prosecutor amounted to a perceived injustice against the client.42The issue was not that the defence barrister had failed to conduct the defence competently or vigorously (the court found that his conduct of the defence was otherwise above reproach), nor was there any reason to suspect ‘any collusion, connivance or lack of dedication to his task’ by defence counsel.43 The Court was instead concerned that his non-disclosure of the relationship might have created reasonable suspicion about whether he had acted with fearless independence, and whether the accused person had received a fair trial.44

The Court noted that barristers play a vital role in the administration of justice, and in promoting public confidence in the justice system:

Litigants see members of the bar conducting themselves as officers of the Court, owing a special duty to the Court. Just as the Court expects fearlessly independent presentation by counsel, so the client expects that subject to counsel’s supervening duty to the Court, counsel will with fearless independence promote the client’s cause.45

The Commission notes that in R v Szabo and the cases relating to incompetence of counsel discussed above, the conduct of the accused person’s lawyer was found to have contributed to a miscarriage of justice even though it involved actions or omissions generally attributable to inadvertence or inexperience, rather than conduct intentionally aimed at undermining the defence case. In R v Szabo, Justice Thomas expressed the view that conduct of the latter kind would be sufficient to justify a conviction being set aside:

The disquiet that arises from the fear that counsel may have failed in their duty … arises out of concern that a person with an important role in the trial may not have discharged it adequately in favour of the client. If a reasonable suspicion arises that defence counsel has ‘run dead’ or colluded with the Crown prosecutor contrary to the interests of the accused or for some extraneous purpose failed to play the proper role of defence counsel, that would reveal a seriously unfair contest, and would in my view demonstrate a miscarriage of justice sufficient to require the conviction to be set aside.46

Non-disclosure of relevant evidence

As discussed in Chapters 2 and 14, the prosecution has a duty to disclose all relevant material to the defence, including any material that may assist the defence case or undermine the prosecution case. This duty is regarded as fundamental to the fairness of a criminal trial, and is owed to the court, not the accused person.47 The duty of disclosure extends to material obtained by investigating police, even if that material is not known to the prosecutor.48 The duty of disclosure continues even after the proceedings have been finalised.49 This means that if, after a person has been convicted, the prosecution becomes aware of important information that is central to the case, it must still be disclosed to the accused person.

A failure by the prosecution to disclose all relevant evidence to an accused person may result in a miscarriage of justice, and a guilty verdict being set aside on appeal.50 The court will consider whether the failure to disclose the material in question caused the trial to be unfair and therefore resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice.51 A failure to disclose relevant material can amount to a substantial miscarriage of justice in this way:

Non-disclosure is a potent source of injustice and even with the benefit of hindsight, it will often be difficult to say whether or not an undisclosed item of evidence might have shifted the balance or opened up a new line of defence.52

As noted above, in Cvetanovski v The Queen, the DPP conceded that the non-disclosure of payments made by Victoria Police and Ms Gobbo to the key prosecution witness meant that the accused person, Mr Cvetanovski, was deprived of the opportunity to test the evidence being presented against him, and the jury was unable to make a proper assessment of the witness’ credibility.53 Mr Cvetanovski had also argued that because he was unaware that Ms Gobbo was a human source, he was unable to raise the issue of Ms Gobbo’s breaches of duty to him as her client.54 Reiterating that ‘the principles governing disclosure are fundamental to the integrity of criminal trials and to the maintenance of public confidence in the administration of justice’, the Court of Appeal concluded that there had accordingly been a substantial miscarriage of justice.55

Inequality of arms

In Lee The Queen, the High Court set aside the appellants’ convictions and ordered a new trial on the basis that at the time of the trial, the prosecution had possession of information that had been wrongfully released to it.56 The prosecution had obtained a copy of transcripts of the accused persons’ evidence before the New South Wales Crime Commission even though there was a prohibition on that evidence being released to police and prosecutors because it might prejudice the fair trial of a person who may later be charged with an offence. The High Court found that the appellants’ trial ‘was altered in a fundamental respect by the prosecution having the appellants’ evidence before the Commission in its possession’.57

The High Court found that:

The circumstances of this case involve the wrongful release and possession of evidence. However, its effects cannot be equated with the use of evidence illegally or improperly obtained… Rather, these appeals concern the effect of the prosecution being armed with the appellants’ evidence. It is not necessary to resort to questions of policy to determine whether a miscarriage of justice has occurred. What occurred in this case affected this criminal trial in a fundamental respect, because it altered the position of the prosecution vis-à-vis the accused. There was no legislative authority for that alteration. Indeed, it occurred contrary to the evident purpose of s 13(9) of the [New South Wales Crime Commission Act 1985], directed to protecting the fair trial of examined persons.58

The High Court concluded that the prosecution should have alerted the trial judge to the fact that they had received the transcripts, so that the judge could have ordered a temporary stay, while another prosecutor and other prosecution personnel, not privy to the evidence, were engaged.59 It was of no relevance that the defence had not objected to the trial proceeding—it was the responsibility of the prosecution to ensure the case was presented properly and with fairness to the accused person.60

Improperly or illegally obtained evidence

If the conviction of the accused person was based on evidence improperly or illegally obtained, in circumstances where the accused person, and the court, were unaware of that fact, the accused person may have been deprived of a fair trial. This is due to the accused person having been deprived of the opportunity to object to the admissibility of the evidence.

Section 138(1) of the Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) provides that evidence that was obtained improperly or in contravention of an Australian law is not admissible, unless the court decides that the desirability of admitting it outweighs the undesirability of permitting its use. This provision recognises the public interest in the criminal justice system discouraging the use of unlawfully or improperly obtained evidence and unlawful conduct by those whose task it is to enforce the law.61 By giving courts the discretion to admit such evidence, this provision also recognises the public interest in sometimes having important and relevant evidence before the court, even if unlawfully obtained.

In determining whether to admit disputed evidence, the court engages in a balancing exercise:

… the weighing against each other of two competing requirements of public policy, namely, the public interest in admitting reliable and probative evidence so as to secure the conviction of the guilty and the public interest in vindicating individual rights and deterring misconduct and maintaining the legitimacy of the system of criminal justice.62

As part of its balancing exercise, the court must take into account several specified considerations, including the gravity of the impropriety or contravention and whether the impropriety or contravention was deliberate or reckless or contrary to a person’s rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.63

In this context, when scrutinising the conduct of police in gathering evidence, courts have considered not only the legality or propriety of the specific methodologies in question, but also the attitudes of the police to their obligations:

When evidence is improperly or illegally obtained by police officers … the attitude of those officers to the rule of law, as displayed during the relevant investigation and any associated prosecution, before, during and after the obtaining of the evidence, must be relevant to the exercise of the discretion conferred by s 138.64

As part of this balancing exercise, the court can also consider how widespread the conduct giving rise to the impropriety is within the relevant law enforcement organisation. This can have a bearing on the seriousness of the impropriety.65

There are two types of evidence referred to in section 138: evidence that was ‘improperly’ obtained, and evidence obtained ‘in contravention of an Australian law’. Improperly obtained evidence involves conduct that is broader than a contravention of law and should not be narrowly construed.66 It includes conduct by police that:

… is clearly inconsistent with minimum standards of acceptable police conduct in all the circumstances, including, among other things, the nature and extent of any known or suspected existing or threatened criminal activity, the basis and justification of any suspicion, the difficulty of effective investigation or prevention and any imminent danger to the community.67

Some deceptive tactics by police, which do not involve illegal conduct, may be considered legitimate.68 Evidence obtained in contravention of an Australian law includes contravention of a law of the Commonwealth, a state or territory, and of the common law.69

The chain of causation between the impropriety or illegality and the evidence sought to be adduced (offered in evidence) may be direct or indirect, provided that the chain represents a course of rational, inferential reasoning.70 The link does not need to be immediate. It may arise through various steps:71

If the impropriety or contravention bears only a distant causal relationship to the evidence, the public interest in deterring impropriety or contravention of the law by obtaining evidence in the manner concerned might be thought more likely to be outweighed by the public interest in admitting probative evidence. Conversely, exclusion of evidence closely connected to the impropriety or contravention might more obviously serve the public interest in deterring the obtaining of evidence in that manner.72

Fresh evidence

In some circumstances, a convicted person may be given leave to appeal against conviction on the basis of fresh evidence.73 Fresh evidence is evidence that was not available to the appellant at the time of the trial, assuming they had exercised reasonable care in the conduct of their case.74

A court may allow an appeal against conviction if the appellant adduces fresh evidence that demonstrates the original conviction constituted a substantial miscarriage of justice. The relevant test is whether the fresh evidence, when viewed in combination with the evidence given at the trial before the jury, shows that there is a ‘significant possibility that the jury, acting reasonably, would have acquitted the accused’ had the fresh evidence been before it at trial.75

In Chapters 7 and 8, the Commission examines how the conduct of Ms Gobbo as a human source and the related conduct of Victoria Police officers:

  • may have affected individual cases
  • may have breached or fallen short of the behaviour demanded by their legal, ethical and professional duties.

In Chapter 9, the Commission identifies the systemic factors across Victoria Police that encouraged, enabled or condoned the failings of individual police officers. These factors largely involved cultural issues and failures of leadership, governance and management. In certain respects, however, they involved failures to comply with legal obligations, notably the obligation to disclose all relevant information to the defence.

The following sections outline the laws and legal principles relating to the Commission’s assessment of the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police officers. The legal principles outlined in these sections refer to laws in operation at the time of the Commission’s inquiry. Although some of the legislation referred to came into force after the key events investigated by the Commission, previous versions of these laws similarly set and governed fundamental professional standards of conduct for lawyers and police officers. Indeed, obligations to uphold the law and observe fair trial principles are long-established and fundamental to the proper administration of the criminal justice system. The Commission is confident, therefore, that the duties and standards of behaviour required of lawyers and police officers under current laws also applied during the period when Ms Gobbo was acting as a human source.76

More detail about key legal principles is also contained in the following chapters:

  • Chapter 2: The importance of the inquiry
  • Chapter 4: Legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege
  • Chapter 14: The use and disclosure of information from human sources in the criminal justice system
  • Chapter 15: Legal profession regulation.

Lawyers’ conduct

In Chapter 7, the Commission describes Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a human source, and the ways in which her conduct may have affected the cases of her clients and others. The chapter also explores the broader impacts of Ms Gobbo’s conduct on individuals, the legal profession and the criminal justice system.

The Commission has concluded that Ms Gobbo’s activities as a human source, while practising as a lawyer, amounted to a grave violation of her duties as a legal practitioner, and that the potential impacts of her misconduct were extraordinarily wide-ranging. Her misconduct involved a disregard for the most basic legal professional and ethical standards of independence, of integrity and of avoiding conflicts of interest.

In assessing Ms Gobbo’s conduct, the Commission had regard to the standards of professional and ethical behaviour expected and required of lawyers, and the tests set down in law to establish whether a lawyer has engaged in misconduct.

Professional misconduct is defined in the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic).77 It includes:

  1. unsatisfactory professional conduct of a lawyer, where the conduct involves a substantial or consistent failure to reach or maintain a reasonable standard of competence and diligence; and
  2. conduct of a lawyer whether occurring in connection with the practice of law or occurring otherwise than in connection with the practice of law that would, if established, justify a finding that the lawyer is not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice.78

The legislation lists examples of conduct that may amount to professional misconduct.79 They include contraventions of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (whether or not the person has been convicted), contraventions of the Legal Profession Uniform Rules, and being convicted of a serious offence or an offence involving dishonesty.80

The Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 (Barristers’ Conduct Rules) are a principal source of a barrister’s professional obligations, breach of which may amount to professional misconduct.81 The Barristers’ Conduct Rules in many important respects reflect the obligations that lawyers owe under the common law. Lawyers are also bound by the laws that apply to members of the community.

The Barristers’ Conduct Rules state that barristers:

  • have an overriding duty to the court to act with independence in the interests of the administration of justice
  • owe duties to their clients and to their colleagues
  • must maintain high standards of professional conduct
  • must act honestly and fairly
  • must give their advice independently and for the proper administration of justice.82

The Barristers’ Conduct Rules accordingly prohibit barristers from engaging in conduct that:

  • deceives or misleads the court or an opponent
  • is dishonest or otherwise discreditable to a barrister
  • is prejudicial to the administration of justice
  • is likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or the administration of justice, or otherwise bring the legal profession into disrepute.83

The Barristers’ Conduct Rules describe a barrister’s duty to the client in this way:

A barrister must promote and protect fearlessly and by all proper and lawful means the client’s best interests to the best of the barrister’s skill and diligence, and do so without regard to his or her own interest or to any consequences to the barrister or to any other person.84

In observing their duty to the client, barristers must keep communications with the client confidential (subject to some exceptions) and must avoid conflicts of interest.85 These duties are not only set out in the Barristers’ Conduct Rules; they are fundamental duties that arise out of the fiduciary relationship that exists between a lawyer and client.86 A fiduciary relationship is one in which a person (the client) places their confidence, good faith, reliance and trust in another (the lawyer), whose advice is being sought.87 The fiduciary duties owed by a lawyer to a client are protected by the branch of law called equity, which is discussed in Chapter 4.

The duty of confidentiality requires a barrister not to use or disclose any confidential information they have received from a client unless the client consents, or the disclosure is compelled or permitted by law.88 As discussed in Chapter 4, communications between a lawyer and client made for the dominant purpose of seeking and providing legal advice, or for use in legal proceedings are also protected by privilege.89

The duty to avoid conflicts of interest requires a barrister not to act for a person if that person’s interests are or would be in conflict with the barrister’s own interests.90 At the very least, the barrister must disclose the conflict to the client and may only continue to act for them if the client provides fully informed consent.91 Barristers are also prohibited from working in another vocation if it is likely to impair or conflict with the barrister’s duties to clients.92

Further, a barrister cannot act for a person if that person’s interests are or would be in conflict with the interests of another of the barrister’s clients,93 or if the barrister has already discussed the person’s case with someone who is likely to be, or associated with, the opposing party in the matter.94

Depending on the nature and seriousness of the conduct involved, and the degree to which the breach was wilful or intentional, a barrister who breaches their professional duties may face:

  • disciplinary action for professional misconduct, which may result in sanctions including suspension or cancellation of the barrister’s practising certificate, removal of the barrister’s name from the Supreme Court Roll of Legal Practitioners, a caution and publication of the details of the disciplinary action taken95
  • criminal proceedings if the conduct is alleged to have involved the commission of an offence (for example, perverting or attempting to pervert the course of justice)96
  • civil proceedings brought by the client to claim damages or compensation (for example, for breach of confidence or breach of fiduciary duty), or to seek an injunction to restrain the barrister from future disclosure of confidential information or from acting for other parties if a conflict of interest exists.97

As discussed above, breaches of a lawyer’s duties to the court or to their client may also affect the outcome of a criminal trial, either because the breach affects a particular aspect of the trial process (for example, the evidence that is available for the court to consider), or because it undermines public confidence in the administration of justice.

If a court becomes aware of the breaches during the trial and decides that they compromise the accused person’s right to a fair trial, it may order that the proceeding be stayed permanently or temporarily. If the breaches become apparent after the accused person has been convicted, they may be raised as grounds of appeal or in a petition for mercy. An appeal court may find that the misconduct involved deprived the accused person of a fair trial and amounted to a substantial miscarriage of justice.

Police officers’ conduct

In Chapter 8, the Commission describes the conduct of several Victoria Police officers in their disclosures about and recruitment, handling and management of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and the ways in which that conduct may have affected the cases of numerous individuals.

The Commission has concluded that the conduct of some current and former Victoria Police officers in managing Ms Gobbo as a human source at various times and in various ways was improper, potentially falling short of the behaviour demanded by their legal, ethical and professional duties. In assessing the conduct of those current and former Victoria Police officers, the Commission had regard to the standards of professional and ethical behaviour expected and required of police, and the tests set down in law to establish whether a police officer’s conduct was improper and amounted to misconduct.

The duties and obligations of police officers arise from their oath or affirmation of office, legislation and prosecutorial guidelines, and the common law. Before they can commence service, every police officer must take an oath or make an affirmation promising to:

  • well and truly serve without favour or affection, malice or ill-will
  • keep and preserve the peace
  • prevent, to the best of their abilities, all offences
  • discharge all of the duties legally imposed on the officer faithfully and according to law.98

Upon making this promise, the officer assumes all of the duties and powers imposed or conferred on a police officer by legislation or the common law.99 The common law tends to describe police duties only in general terms.100 As reflected in their oath or affirmation of office, police have two broad duties: to prevent and detect crime, and to keep the peace.101

One specific duty police have is the duty of disclosure. As noted above and in Chapter 2, police are bound by the prosecution’s duty to disclose all relevant information to the accused person. The duty of disclosure continues to apply even after an accused person has been convicted. If police wish to resist disclosure of certain information in their possession on the basis that it is subject to public interest immunity (PII), they must apply to the court for an order authorising non-disclosure.102

As a public authority, Victoria Police, along with its officers, is also required to comply with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Charter).103 The Charter only applies to acts or decisions made after 1 January 2008.104

The Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) (Victoria Police Act) and the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic), set out what ‘breaches of discipline’ or ‘misconduct’ mean.105

Breaches of discipline include:

  • contraventions of the Victoria Police Act or regulations
  • conduct that is likely to bring Victoria Police into disrepute or diminish public confidence in it
  • disgraceful or improper conduct
  • negligence or carelessness in the discharge of duty
  • acting in a manner prejudicial to the good order or discipline of Victoria Police
  • aiding or abetting or directly or indirectly being knowingly concerned in, or a party to the commission of a breach of discipline.106

Misconduct means:

  • conduct that constitutes an offence punishable by imprisonment
  • conduct that is likely to bring Victoria Police into disrepute or diminish public confidence in it
  • disgraceful or improper conduct (whether in the officer’s official capacity or otherwise).107

Depending on the nature and seriousness of the conduct involved, and the degree to which the breach was wilful or intentional, a police officer who breaches their professional duties may initially face an investigation by Victoria Police or the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC),108 which may in turn result in:

  • management action under internal Victoria Police policy, such as workplace guidance, formally recording the breach on the officer’s professional development assessment or an admonishment notice109
  • action for breach of discipline, which may result in a reprimand; a fine; a reduction in rank, seniority or remuneration; dismissal or a requirement to pay compensation or costs110
  • criminal proceedings if the conduct is alleged to have involved the commission of an offence (for example, misconduct in public office, or perverting or attempting to pervert the course of justice).111

Breaches of certain legal obligations by police officers may provide grounds for civil proceedings (for example, for malicious prosecution), and may also affect the outcome of a criminal trial. In particular, as outlined above, any impropriety or unlawfulness in the processes by which they gathered evidence, or any failure to disclose relevant information to the defence, may be directly relevant to whether an accused person has received a fair trial.

The Commission’s role and approach

As noted in Chapter 3, the Commission’s role was to inquire into and report on the matters specified in its terms of reference. This involved uncovering facts, and reaching general conclusions about their consequences.

As an investigative body, the Commission had no judicial or prosecutorial power, and was unable to make any determinative findings. It had no power to overturn convictions, order re-trials, change sentences, release people from custody or otherwise affect anyone’s legal position.112 Only courts have these powers. Nor did the Commission have the power to initiate any criminal or disciplinary charges. Instead it will be for other authorities to determine whether charges or disciplinary proceedings should be brought.113 If such action is taken, it will be for a court (or other agencies in the case of some conduct) to make findings about whether offences or other types of unlawful conduct have been committed, and if so, to impose sanctions.

No power to find people guilty of criminal offences

Under our legal system, only a court exercising criminal jurisdiction can make a finding that a person is guilty of a criminal offence and impose criminal sanctions.114 A royal commission or other body of inquiry does not have these powers. This reflects the ‘principle of legality’. This principle aims to avoid ‘the risk of reputational damage and prejudice to any criminal proceedings that might follow publication of a finding of corrupt [or criminal] conduct’.115

In the Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct (commonly known as the ‘Fitzgerald Inquiry’), the Chair of the Commission, the Honourable Gerald Edward (Tony) Fitzgerald, AC, QC, explained why bodies other than courts should refrain from making findings about criminal conduct, even when they are investigating events involving potentially unlawful conduct:

The community would be badly served by any unnecessary departure from the fundamental presumption of innocence to which each citizen is entitled unless and until tried and convicted. Every person who was adversely mentioned in evidence before this Inquiry (or who is mentioned in material held by the Commission) is innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court or other appropriate tribunal, which must make such a finding in the proper discharge of its functions.

Even where it is necessary to make an adverse finding in this report against a particular person, the question of his or her criminal guilt must remain for the appropriate court to determine. To the extent that findings of fact are necessary for the purposes of the report, it goes no further than to record matters and draws short of any conclusion as to the commission (or otherwise) of any criminal offence by any person.116

Power to consider potential unlawful conduct

The principle of legality does not prevent certain regulatory authorities and investigative bodies from inquiring into potential criminal and other unlawful activity and making findings about individual conduct.

The parameters of an inquiry will ultimately depend on the legislation or other instrument establishing the agency or body, as well as relevant legal principles developed by the courts.117 For example, an administrative body with regulatory functions may be empowered to determine whether a person has engaged in conduct that constitutes a criminal offence as a step in the decision to take disciplinary or other action.118 Such a determination may lay the foundations for instituting legal proceedings or other enforcement measures.119 In other circumstances, it may only be permissible for the agency or body to report on the existence of material that may establish that a criminal offence has been committed, without expressing any actual finding that an offence may have been or was committed.120

In the case of a royal commission, its terms of reference will determine whether it is permissible to express views about the conduct of those involved in the events that are the subject of its inquiry.121

Findings made by administrative or investigative bodies like this Commission about the conduct of those it investigates have an entirely different character to findings made by courts exercising criminal jurisdiction. They are made for a different purpose, and are reached by reference to a different standard of proof and a different approach to the rules of evidence (discussed further below). In addition, subject to some exceptions, evidence given or produced to a royal commission cannot be used against a person in criminal proceedings.122 This prohibition preserves the important distinction in our democracy between an inquiry such as a royal commission—an exercise of power by the executive branch of government—and a criminal proceeding before a court—an exercise of power by the judicial branch of government. The distinction means that the evidence used in a criminal trial remains subject to the strict rules developed over centuries to ensure that criminal justice is administered fairly.

The Commission’s approach to considering potential unlawful conduct

The Commission’s terms of reference required it to consider potential unlawful conduct. This was not to determine guilt, but to address the terms of reference within the parameters of the Letters Patent establishing the Commission.

The Commission’s consideration and identification of potential unlawful conduct by individuals was necessary and justified for several reasons.

As discussed in Chapter 1, the High Court, in its decision in AB v CD, observed that Ms Gobbo’s actions were ‘fundamental and appalling breaches’ of her obligations as counsel to her clients and of her duties to the court.123 It also concluded that Victoria Police was ‘guilty of reprehensible conduct’ in knowingly encouraging Ms Gobbo to act as a human source and was ‘involved in sanctioning atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer’ under the Victoria Police Act and its predecessor, such that the prosecution of several people ‘was corrupted in a manner which debased fundamental premises of the criminal justice system’.124 This decision precipitated the Commission’s inquiry and is cited in the background to the Commission’s terms of reference. Accordingly, these statements of the High Court informed the purpose of the Commission’s inquiry and its overall approach—namely, an examination of relevant events and the extent to which the criminal justice process was undermined by potentially illegal or improper conduct. It was appropriate for the Commission to adopt this approach in light of the High Court’s observations—that is, to have regard to the context and reasons for the establishment of the inquiry.125

The terms of reference required the Commission to report on the ‘conduct’ of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and the ‘conduct’ of current and former Victoria Police officers. Against the background of the High Court’s decision in AB v CD, it was necessary for the Commission to examine the appropriateness of their conduct, including whether it fell short of that required by applicable laws, regulations and professional standards.

Examining the extent to which cases ‘may have been affected’ required consideration of potential unlawful or improper conduct on the part of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police officers. As discussed above, a case may be affected in many ways, such as if those involved in investigating or prosecuting it obtained evidence through improper or unlawful means, or if their conduct otherwise undermines public confidence in the administration of justice. The nature and extent of any unlawful or improper conduct by current or former police officers and Ms Gobbo may be relevant to a court determining whether a substantial miscarriage of justice has occurred, resulting in a conviction being quashed and/or a charge permanently stayed.

Term of reference 6 also authorised the Commission to inquire into and report on any other matters necessary to satisfactorily resolve the matters included in terms of reference 1–5. This further supported the Commission’s broad scope envisaged by the Letters Patent to investigate, consider and report on all dimensions of the conduct of Ms Gobbo and current and former Victoria Police officers.

Counsel Assisting submissions

In their submissions, Counsel Assisting, while recognising and applying the principle of legality, invited the Commission to find that Ms Gobbo and a number of current and former police officers may have committed criminal conduct, and may have engaged in conduct that breached their professional and ethical duties. In the case of Ms Gobbo, Counsel Assisting submitted she may have engaged in conduct that breached her obligations under the Barristers’ Conduct Rules or its predecessor.126 In the case of certain current and former police officers, Counsel submitted that they may have engaged in conduct that breached their obligations under the Victoria Police Act or its predecessor.127 Importantly and appropriately, they did not submit that the Commission should find they had done so, appreciating the limitations upon the Commission’s administrative powers.

In their responsive submissions, Victoria Police, some current and former Victoria Police officers and Ms Gobbo urged the Commission not to make such findings and requested that those portions of Counsel Assisting submissions be redacted.

The Commissioner’s ruling

The Commission determined that even though it was required to consider potential criminal conduct, it would not make findings that any named individuals (such as Ms Gobbo or current or former Victoria Police officers) committed or may have committed criminal offences. The Commission determined, however, that it might make findings against individuals concerning potential breaches of the Victoria Police Act or its predecessor.128 The Commission communicated this position to Victoria Police, the relevant current and former police officers and Ms Gobbo in August 2020 and, at their request, gave reasons for that decision.129

In arriving at the decision not to make findings that any individual had or may have committed criminal offences, the Commission was guided by the approach adopted in previous comparable inquiries and royal commissions, by its Letters Patent and the background to them, and by a concern not to unfairly prejudice any future court proceedings or put at risk the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, as enshrined in Victoria’s Charter. Any findings of this Commission would not, in any event, be admissible to establish the guilt of individuals in a criminal trial. It follows that, even accepting this Commission had power to make findings about potential criminal conduct as Counsel Assisting persuasively submitted, those findings would have no effect and would be inadmissible in a criminal proceeding.

The Commission’s decision that it may make findings, if satisfied to the requisite standard, that some current and former police officers may have committed breaches of the Victoria Police Act or its predecessor was also guided by the terms of its Letters Patent and the events that led to this Commission, including the High Court’s observations in AB CD about the conduct of Victoria Police. It was also influenced by the fact that determinations about breaches of the Victoria Police Act and its predecessor are made, not by courts exercising judicial power, but by the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police or their authorised delegate exercising executive power.130 This means that the concern about prejudicing the deliberations of a jury in relation to potential criminal charges is not applicable. A professional decision maker with statutory functions would be able to make decisions according to the applicable criteria and evidentiary requirements, without being swayed by previous findings of this Commission or by media reporting of them.

The Commission’s findings and conclusions about individual conduct

Consistent with the Commissioner’s ruling, the Commission has not made any findings that any individual committed or may have committed any criminal offences.

The Commission is satisfied, however, that some current and former Victoria Police officers engaged in conduct that, at the time, may have amounted to breaches of discipline and/or misconduct. The Commission’s conclusions about the conduct of these officers are set out in Chapter 8.

It is also satisfied that Ms Gobbo engaged in conduct that breached her duties as a legal practitioner. In this regard it should be noted that in her written submissions, Ms Gobbo admitted that she had engaged in conflicts of interest and breaches of legal professional privilege and confidentiality.131 The Commission’s conclusions about Ms Gobbo’s conduct are set out in Chapter 7.

Having reached these conclusions and having received submissions from Counsel Assisting about potentially criminal or unlawful conduct,132 the Commission had to consider what further action was warranted with respect to these serious allegations.

The Commission considered the evidence and submissions made by all parties. The Commission is persuaded that, despite the arguments made in responsive submissions,133 there is sufficient merit in the contentions about potential criminal conduct and other misconduct made in the complete and unredacted version of Counsel Assisting submissions to require a full and independent investigation to determine whether there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a prosecution or disciplinary action.134 The Commission was also mindful of the limitations of its own investigations, in part because of the extent and breadth of the matters it was required to investigate and its time and budgetary constraints, but also due to the challenges it faced in accessing all relevant materials from Victoria Police (these are discussed further in Chapter 16). As a result, it cannot be confident it has identified all instances of potential wrongdoing by individuals, received all pertinent material or heard from all relevant witnesses. In any case, much of the evidence gathered by this Commission is not admissible in a criminal proceeding.135 For these reasons, the Commission has concluded that investigation by a law enforcement body is required.

For reasons explained in Chapter 17, however, the Commission formed the view that it would be problematic for the conduct of Ms Gobbo and of current and former Victoria Police officers to be probed by existing investigative authorities. Instead, it has recommended that the Victorian Government appoints a dedicated Special Investigator with all necessary powers to investigate whether there is sufficient evidence to establish the commission of any criminal offences connected with the events that led to this Commission. If the Special Investigator concludes that there is sufficient evidence to establish the commission of any criminal offences, they would compile a brief of evidence for the DPP who would then decide whether to prosecute, and if so would be responsible for prosecution of the matter in the courts.

The Special Investigator should also be empowered to investigate whether there is sufficient evidence to establish the commission of or a breach of discipline under the Victoria Police Act or its predecessor by any serving police officer. If satisfied there is sufficient evidence, the Special Investigator would be able to lay disciplinary charges against individual police officers.

The Commission’s recommendations about the appointment of the Special Investigator are set out in Chapter 17. As Ms Gobbo has now been struck off the Roll of Legal Practitioners and she can no longer practise as a lawyer, there is no basis for her professional misconduct to be investigated further.136 As discussed in Chapter 7, the only remaining action to be taken in relation to Ms Gobbo’s practice as a lawyer is for the Victorian Bar to take the symbolically significant step to have her name removed from the Victorian Bar Roll.

Establishing the scope of the inquiry

The scope of a royal commission’s inquiry is determined by the content of the instrument establishing the inquiry. The Letters Patent establishing the Commission specified its terms of reference, and also, as discussed in the previous section, included information about the background to the inquiry.

Defining key words and phrases in the terms of reference

Once the Letters Patent for the Commission were issued, it became the Commission’s responsibility to determine the scope of the inquiry and to construe its terms of reference.137 Defining key words and phrases helped the Commission to establish the parameters of its inquiry, and in turn to complete its functions and report on time, and apply its resources in a targeted and efficient manner.138

Tables 5.1 and 5.2 below describe how the Commission defined or construed key words and phrases in terms of reference 1 and 2 relating to its investigative functions.

Table 5.1: Definition of key words and phrases in term of reference 1

Term of reference 1: the number of, and extent to which, cases may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo as a human source

Word or phrase

Definition

conduct of Ms Gobbo

Refers to Ms Gobbo’s acts and omissions as a human source, in the context of her also representing, acting for or providing legal advice to clients.

This includes an examination of Ms Gobbo’s duties as a legal practitioner to the administration of justice, to the courts, to her fellow practitioners and to her clients, and the potential consequences of breaching those obligations, including whether such conduct may have affected cases.

as a human source

Concerns conduct in connection with Ms Gobbo providing information to, and otherwise assisting (or attempting to assist) Victoria Police.

Assisting police includes conduct aimed at helping police in the investigation and prosecution of her clients and others, such as informing on her clients to police, encouraging co-accused or other witnesses or clients to provide evidence against her clients or others, and encouraging her clients to plead guilty when she was acting as an agent of police.

Includes conduct of Ms Gobbo in periods when she was not a registered human source, but may have been providing information, or otherwise assisting (or attempting to assist) police in a manner consistent with being a human source.

case

Refers to a specific proceeding (either indictable or summary) that resulted in a conviction or finding of guilt. Restricting cases to those that resulted in a conviction or finding of guilt was necessary due to the definition given to ‘affected’, its connection to appeals against conviction, and the High Court’s statement in AB v CD that upon the disclosure of information regarding the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police, ‘the propriety of each Convicted Person’s conviction be re-examined’.139

affected

Refers to whether the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police officers may be relevant to the Court of Appeal when:

  • determining an appeal against conviction, a second or subsequent appeal against conviction, a referral from a petition for mercy
  • considering whether there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice.

extent

Refers to the number of ways in which, and the degree to which, the case may have been affected, by reference to the types of conduct relevant to the Court of Appeal’s determination of an appeal against a conviction, or a second or subsequent appeal against conviction, or a referral from a petition for mercy.

may

Refers to the notion of ‘reasonable possibility’, a lower threshold than that applied by appellate courts.

Does not indicate any conclusions as to the merits of any potential challenge to a conviction in the Court of Appeal, or any determination that a case was, as opposed to may have been, affected.

Table 5.2: Definition of key words and phrases in term of reference 2

Term of reference 2: the conduct of current and former officers of Victoria Police in their disclosures about and recruitment, handling and management of Ms Gobbo as a human source

Word or phrase

Definition

disclosures

Refers to the disclosures made by Victoria Police directly to an accused person and/or their legal representatives, prosecuting authorities such as the Director of Public Prosecutions, other bodies such as the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office and/or a court.

recruitment

Refers to the circumstances in which Ms Gobbo was recruited or came to act as a human source.

handling and management

Refers to how Ms Gobbo was handled and managed as a human source by Victoria Police.

conduct of current and former officers of Victoria Police

Refers to the acts and omissions of those officers in their relevant interactions with Ms Gobbo or that resulted from Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

Construed broadly to reflect the duties and obligations of officers of Victoria Police at law, including the sworn or affirmed duty of every police officer to discharge all duties imposed on them faithfully and according to law without favour or affection, malice or ill-will.

as a human source

Concerns conduct in connection with Ms Gobbo providing information to and otherwise assisting (or attempting to assist) police.

Identifying potentially affected cases

Counsel Assisting submitted to the Commission that the following methodology they developed for identifying the number of cases that may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and the extent to which they were potentially affected, was appropriate and accurate. The methodology was designed in accordance with the definitions ascribed to the words and phrases in the terms of reference as outlined above.

The overall objective of this process was to identify cases that resulted in a conviction or finding of guilt, and which fell into any of these categories:

  1. Ms Gobbo advised, conferred with or represented the accused person between 14 May 1998140 and 16 August 2013.141 (This category did not require any evidence that Ms Gobbo had provided information to Victoria Police or had otherwise assisted the prosecution—it was sufficient that she had provided legal services to the accused person while also acting as a human source and had not disclosed her role as a source.)
  2. Ms Gobbo advised, conferred with or represented the accused person and there was evidence that her conduct as a human source may have more directly affected the outcome of the accused person’s case. This was because she had communicated information about them, or about people with whom they had associated or events in which they may have been involved, to Victoria Police and she was also providing legal services to them, without disclosing her role as a human source to the accused person.
  3. Ms Gobbo did not advise, confer with or represent the accused person, but there was evidence that her conduct as a human source may otherwise have tainted the evidence used by the prosecution against the accused person, without anyone disclosing her role as human source.

Broadly, the process involved first ascertaining the people Ms Gobbo advised or represented while also acting as a human source (whether registered as such or not). Those cases were then filtered according to certain criteria relating to Ms Gobbo’s representation, case outcomes, and evidence of relevant interactions between Ms Gobbo (in her capacity as a human source) and Victoria Police. The details of this process are documented in Counsel Assisting submissions.142

The analysis of Counsel Assisting, supplemented by further work undertaken by Commission staff, revealed that there were 973 individuals with convictions or findings of guilt for whom Ms Gobbo acted between 1998 and 2013 without disclosing her role as police agent. It was not necessary for there to be a link between her representation of the accused person and the conviction or finding of guilt. These were the cases that fell within the first two categories listed above.

A further 38 individuals, for whom Ms Gobbo did not act, were identified as having convictions or findings of guilt potentially affected by her conduct and that of Victoria Police—in particular, because evidence used against them may have been improperly or illegally obtained through the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, and the origins of the evidence were not disclosed to the accused person. These were the cases that fell within the third category listed above.

This provides a total cohort of 1,011 individuals whose cases were potentially affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo acting as a human source.

Counsel Assisting developed detailed case studies for 124 individuals from this cohort, demonstrating how their cases may have been specifically affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police. Of these, 86 were Ms Gobbo’s clients (and fell within the second category listed above), and 38 were related cases (falling within the third category). The cases of these 124 individuals were identified as potentially having been affected because they were persuasive examples of conduct that may be found to amount to a substantial miscarriage of justice on the following two broad grounds.

Undisclosed conflict of interest

  • Ms Gobbo was acting for the accused person and also provided information to Victoria Police in relation to the accused person, and/or otherwise assisting (or attempting to assist) in the prosecution of the accused person; and
  • This conduct was not disclosed to the accused person, nor did Victoria Police seek permission from the court not to disclose that information.

Tainted evidence

  • Evidence relied upon in prosecuting the accused person may have been obtained as a result of the improper or illegal use of Ms Gobbo as a human source by Victoria Police; and
  • The origins of that evidence were not disclosed to the accused person, nor did Victoria Police seek permission from the court not to disclose that information.

In respect of the remaining 887 individuals, Counsel Assisting submitted that Ms Gobbo failed to disclose that she was a human source while also advising or representing them. Even in the absence of any indication that Ms Gobbo provided information about these people to Victoria Police, or that the evidence used in their prosecution was tainted, this circumstance alone is potentially capable of giving rise to a substantial miscarriage of justice, pursuant to the approach in R v Szabo (described above). This may depend, however, on the role of Ms Gobbo in each accused person's case. In this regard, Counsel Assisting noted that in many cases Ms Gobbo did not appear at the accused person’s trial or if she did she was led by senior counsel.143 Instead she may only have provided advice, or have appeared at preliminary stages of proceedings, such as in mention hearings, bail applications and committals.

Evidentiary principles

A royal commission may conduct its inquiry in any manner that it considers appropriate, subject to the requirements of procedural fairness, the Letters Patent and the Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) (Inquiries Act).144 It is not bound by the rules of evidence and may inform itself on any matter as it sees fit.145 Even though a royal commission is not bound by the rules of evidence, it should have regard to those rules because they assist in providing ‘substantial justice’ to the parties concerned.146

So, while the Commission was able to conduct the inquiry in the manner it considered appropriate, it was also mindful of its scope, statutory requirements and the rules of procedural fairness and evidence. Accordingly, the Commission:

  • gathered evidence from a range of sources: written statements, oral evidence, submissions and documents obtained in response to notices to produce
  • took a broad, liberal approach to the questions of relevance and admissibility of evidence, being mindful of its investigative nature and the purpose of the inquiry
  • established processes for considering and determining applications to refuse to give information to the Commission, principally on the grounds of PII
  • afforded procedural fairness to any person whose interests were sufficiently affected by the inquiry (discussed further below)
  • in making findings in this final report, adopted the civil standard of proof as explained in the case of Briginshaw v Briginshaw.147

As explained above, the Commission’s role was not to make findings that any person had committed a criminal offence. That is the role of the courts. When courts exercise criminal jurisdiction, the fact-finder must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the elements of the offence with which the accused person is charged before that person can be found guilty. This is called the criminal standard of proof, and is considered an appropriately high threshold given the gravity of imposing criminal sanctions on an individual.

When making its findings, the Commission was not exercising judicial power in a criminal proceeding and it was therefore not necessary to apply the criminal standard of proof. Instead, as noted, it adopted the civil standard of proof, which requires satisfaction on the balance of probabilities.148 This is a lower threshold than the criminal standard of proof. In making findings about conduct that, if found to be misconduct, could have serious consequences for those who may be charged, the Commission did so cautiously. This is consistent with the legal principle explained by Justice Dixon in Briginshaw, that:

Except upon criminal issues to be proved by the prosecution, it is enough that the affirmative of an allegation is made out to the reasonable satisfaction of the tribunal. But reasonable satisfaction is not a state of mind that is attained or established independently of the nature and consequence of the fact or facts to be proved. The seriousness of the allegation made, the inherent unlikelihood of an occurrence of a given description, or the gravity of the consequences flowing from a particular finding are considerations which must affect the answer to the question whether the issue has been proved to the reasonable satisfaction of the tribunal. In such matters ‘reasonable satisfaction’ should not be produced by inexact proofs, indefinite testimony, or indirect inferences.149

Procedural fairness requirements

As noted above and in Chapter 3, the Commission was obliged to afford procedural fairness to interested parties. This obligation arises under the Inquiries Act and the common law.150

Procedural fairness is a fundamental legal principle. This principle requires courts and commissions of inquiry to exercise their powers with fairness to those whose interests might be affected.151

The entitlement to procedural fairness generally extends to any person whose rights, interests or legitimate expectations may be affected in a direct and immediate way.152 The variety of interests that are protected by the requirements of procedural fairness are ‘almost infinite’153 and are not limited to legal rights.154 They can also include status, reputation, liberty, confidentiality, livelihood and financial or other benefit.155

There are many ways in which a royal commission or other inquiry can ensure interested parties are afforded procedural fairness. The scope and content of the obligation to afford procedural fairness is determined by the facts and circumstances of the inquiry.156 The requirements are flexible and their application in each case will depend on matters such as the nature of the inquiry, the legislation and terms of reference governing the inquiry, and the subject matter being dealt with.157 They are also shaped by matters of practicality, such as the time and resources available to the decision maker, the duration and complexity of the inquiry, and the volume of material the inquiry traverses.158

The overriding consideration in determining the scope and content of the obligation to afford procedural fairness is ‘fairness’.159

Significantly, procedural fairness requires anyone conducting an inquiry to refrain from making any finding adverse to the interests of a person without first giving them the opportunity to make submissions against such a finding.160 This obligation is reflected in section 36 of the Inquiries Act and required the Commission to:

  • ensure that any person against whom an adverse finding was proposed was aware of the matters on which the proposed finding was based, and that they had an opportunity to respond to those matters
  • consider the person’s response before making an adverse finding
  • fairly set out the person’s response in its report when making an adverse finding against them.

Procedural fairness also requires that decision makers not be, and not appear to be, affected by bias—that is, they must bring an impartial mind to the resolution of the questions they are required to decide.161 This is known as the ‘bias rule’. A decision maker should not by their words or actions convey:

… the impression that he or she had preconceived adverse views about a party’s case and that those views were so strongly held that he or she was unwilling or unable to consider on their merits any submissions made, or evidence adduced, by that party which were inconsistent with those views.162

The bias rule does not, however, preclude a decision maker from expressing tentative views during a hearing, nor does it require the absence of any predisposition or inclination for or against an argument or conclusion.163 A person presiding over a royal commission is permitted to take a more active, interventionist and robust role in the conduct of hearings, ascertaining facts and reaching conclusions, than a judge in adversarial court proceedings.164

The bias rule may require the decision maker to redress any ‘evident and persisting inequality of treatment’ of particular witnesses by any counsel assisting.165 It does not, however, prevent counsel assisting from advancing a ‘case theory’ in the presentation of evidence and argument.166 What matters is whether, by the time the public part of the inquiry draws to a close, the decision maker can still consider the evidence given and the submissions put to them on their merits, and reach a conclusion, irrespective of the case theory.167 The main question will be whether the decision maker is reasonably open to persuasion and is seen to be so.168

Procedural fairness also requires that interested parties be given a fair hearing throughout the inquiry.169 A fair hearing involves ensuring that parties are able to ascertain the critical issues, evidence and considerations relevant to their interests and that they have access to material that is both supportive of and adverse to their interests. It also involves giving parties the opportunity to present their case and to respond to evidence that contradicts their position.

Application of procedural fairness by the Commission

The Commission afforded procedural fairness not only to those individuals against whom an adverse finding may have been made, but also to those whose cases may have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source (whom the Commission came to refer to as ‘potentially affected persons’), as well as to agencies involved in the prosecution of the potentially affected cases. Many of the potentially affected persons had a direct personal interest in the Commission’s findings due to the possible infringement of their legal rights, including the deprivation of their liberty if they had been imprisoned following their conviction.

The processes the Commission adopted for ensuring interested parties were afforded procedural fairness are set out in Chapter 3. Broadly, they involved allowing certain individuals and entities to appear and often also to be heard at the Commission’s hearings, to cross-examine relevant witnesses, to make oral and written submissions on issues affecting them, and to have access to documentary materials. Parties were provided with Counsel Assisting submissions about what findings they considered ought to be made, as well as submissions made by other interested parties, and were invited to make responsive submissions (including, where necessary, reply submissions) so that any potential adverse findings could be addressed. The Commission carefully considered all such responsive and reply submissions.

The Commission implemented and facilitated all of these processes in the context of tight timeframes, finite resources, extensive documentary material often being provided late, a large number of interested parties, a labyrinth of complex historical court non-publication orders requiring several applications to the Supreme Court, protracted arrangements for resolving an extraordinary number of PII claims, hundreds of applications for non-publication orders, and an application to the Supreme Court to judicially review one of its decisions.

The Commission’s capacity to share relevant materials with interested parties was constrained in several instances by Victoria Police and sometimes other entities insisting that certain material not be disclosed to others on the basis of PII, or that it otherwise be treated as confidential. In some cases, Victoria Police agreed to provide these materials to others, subject to them providing legal undertakings to keep the material confidential. But on many occasions, they refused to disclose the material even when an appropriate undertaking was offered. The Commission was also impacted by Victoria Police’s often late and voluminous production of documents, some of which contained material relevant to witnesses who had already appeared or were about to appear before the Commission. Because of time constraints and the size of its task, the Commission did not have the opportunity to recall all such witnesses to fully explore this material with them or allow others to do so. These issues are addressed in Chapter 16.

In their submissions in response to Counsel Assisting submissions, Ms Gobbo, Victoria Police and some current and former Victoria Police officers asserted that they had not received procedural fairness from the Commission (either directly or through the actions of Counsel Assisting). They argued that the Commission should be careful not to simply adopt Counsel Assisting submissions.

Ms Gobbo submitted that Counsel Assisting (and, in more limited ways, the Commissioner) were biased against her and/or pursued a predetermined narrative.170 Six former officers of the Victoria Police Source Development Unit also argued that Counsel Assisting pursued a predetermined narrative that was unsupported by the evidence.171

The other contentions made by parties included that:

  • Counsel Assisting’s proposed findings and criticisms were based on inaccuracies, unsupported inferences and selective use of available material172
  • Counsel Assisting’s proposed findings were based on material that had not been tendered during hearings, or not put to parties when they gave evidence before the Commission173
  • they had inadequate access to relevant witness statements and documents, which hampered their efforts to refresh their memories about past events and prevented them from understanding the allegations being made against them174
  • they had insufficient time to prepare for giving evidence and/or for responding to Counsel Assisting submissions175
  • the Commission had insufficient time to conduct the detailed inquiry necessary to reach accurate conclusions about the conduct of individuals.176

The Commission fully understood its obligations to afford procedural fairness to interested individuals and entities. Given the time and financial constraints within which it operated and the unsatisfactory, piecemeal way that Victoria Police provided information, the Commission did everything reasonable to ensure procedural fairness. It is true that some of the material referred to by Counsel Assisting in their submissions was identified after the conclusion of the hearings in relation to terms of reference 1 and 2. But all parties had the opportunity to respond to Counsel Assisting submissions, to answer any allegations amounting to adverse findings and to place further material before the Commission. The Commission is satisfied that, in this way, all interested individuals and entities received procedural fairness throughout the inquiry, and in relation to the findings and conclusions included in this final report.

Assertions that counsel are biased should not be lightly made.177 Those assertions, however, were vigorously made by Ms Gobbo and must be dealt with, however trivial or misconceived.178

The tests for bias concern the decision maker, not those in supporting roles such as that of Counsel Assisting. The submissions of Counsel Assisting plainly did not represent the views of the Commissioner. The Commissioner, who constituted the Commission, carefully scrutinised Counsel Assisting submissions when reaching the Commission’s findings.179 She also carefully considered all responsive submissions, including any objections to Counsel Assisting’s assertions and proposed findings. The Commissioner’s decision, after receiving the responsive submissions, not to find that particular individuals may have engaged in criminal conduct, was one of many examples of the Commission’s decisions not to accept Counsel's contentions and/or risk prejudicing the rights or interests of parties.180

The Commission rejects the other assertions made by individuals that they were not afforded procedural fairness. As to the arguments that they were not sufficiently aware of key issues, facts and evidence, had insufficient time to review materials or formulate positions, and that Counsel Assisting submissions referred to matters that had not been raised during hearings, the Commission makes the following points:

  • The Commission’s inquiry was preceded by several other reviews and court proceedings conducted over many years, including the AB v CD proceedings in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court, such that the parties were already broadly aware of the events and issues involved before the Commission’s inquiry began.
  • The requirement to ensure fair notice of the critical issues, facts and evidence relevant to any adverse findings that might be made was discharged on an ongoing basis throughout the Commission’s inquiry. People subject to scrutiny by the Commission were represented by lawyers who had access to a vast quantity of documents and transcripts of evidence, ample opportunity to cross-examine relevant witnesses at the Commission’s hearings and listen to evidence, and to make and respond to submissions. If relevant material was not shown to them in a timely way, it was because Counsel Assisting did not then have or were not then aware of the significance of the material or because court or other orders or PII claims prevented this. The submissions process rectified any such shortcomings and provided an opportunity for the individuals to provide their response (and on occasion, multiple times).
  • Although the Commission’s timeframes were tight, the parties were routinely afforded appropriate procedural fairness, necessarily tailored to the circumstances in which this Commission operated. The Commission’s inquiry was conducted over a period of almost two years, which afforded individuals and entities ample time to consider their positions. The Commission frequently granted parties extensions of time to make submissions and review materials. In addition, special arrangements were made for Ms Gobbo to give evidence, in light of her medical conditions and other personal circumstances. These personal circumstances also impacted upon the Commission’s ability to make documents available to Ms Gobbo in a secure form.
  • As an investigatory body, the Commission was not bound by evidentiary rules in the same way that courts are. Accordingly, the fact that not every point or allegation was put to a witness, and not every document was tendered during hearings, did not preclude the Commission from making an adverse finding in respect of those matters, as long as the affected individual or entity first had the opportunity to respond (for example, in written submissions). If a matter was not put during a witness’ evidence, that did, however, have an impact on whether the Commission made findings in relation to it. The late provision of a great deal of material from Victoria Police also meant that the Commission’s investigative role continued after the hearings on terms of reference 1 and 2 concluded in February 2020. The provision of Counsel Assisting submissions to relevant individuals afforded them an adequate opportunity to respond to matters not raised at the hearings, given the challenging circumstances in which this Commission had to function.181
  • Before making adverse findings, the Commission took into account the fact that individuals did not always have access to relevant documents and material when giving evidence, that serious allegations contained in Counsel Assisting submissions were not always put to them, and that not every relevant witness may have been called. This is another way in which the Commission afforded all individuals procedural fairness.

Conclusion

The laws and legal principles outlined in this chapter demonstrate the importance of ensuring accused persons receive a fair trial, and the consequences for convictions if an appeal court identifies any oversight, impropriety or illegality that tainted the accused person’s trial and resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice. Not only can errors or omissions in a trial or evidence-gathering processes amount to a substantial miscarriage of justice, so too can the conduct of lawyers and law enforcement officers if it breaches professional and ethical standards, or otherwise undermines public confidence in the administration of justice.

The Commission’s findings, conclusions and recommendations in relation to its primary investigative functions were guided and informed by these principles. They are set out in Chapters 7, 8 and 9 and should be read in light of the consistent expectation of appeal courts that fair trial principles be adhered to, even if the case against the accused person is considered a very strong one.

Endnotes

1 In addition, term of reference 6 authorised the Commission to inquire into and report on ‘any other matters necessary to satisfactorily resolve’ the matters within terms of reference 1–5.

2 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511 (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA);Cvetanovski v The Queen [2020] VSCA 272 (Maxwell P, Beach and Weinberg JJA).

3 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 513 [12] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA).

4 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 514 [15]–[16] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA).

5 Cvetanovski v The Queen [2020] VSCA 272, [9]–[10], [13] (Maxwell P, Beach and Weinberg JJA).

6 Cvetanovski v The Queen [2020] VSCA 272, [13] (Maxwell P, Beach and Weinberg JJA).

7 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [160] (Ginnane J).

8 For principles relevant to the other pathways, see Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 1, 26–31.

9 Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) s 277.

10 Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) s 276.

11 Baini v The Queen (2012) 246 CLR 469, 479.

12 Andelman v The Queen (2013) 38 VR 659, [85].

13 R v Hickey [1997] EWCA Crim 2028 (Roch LJ) (cited in AB v CD [2017] VSCA 338 [198] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA)).

14 See, eg, Nudd v The Queen (2006) 80 ALJR 614, 617 [6]–[7] (Gleeson CJ);Wilde v The Queen (1988) 164 CLR 365, 375 (Deane J); Ratten v The Queen (1974) 131 CLR 510, 516 (Barwick CJ).See also  Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 513 [12] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA) citing Wilde v The Queen (1988) 164 CLR 365, 373 (Brennan, Dawson and Toohey JJ).

15 AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [63] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJ); Baini v The Queen (2012) VLR 469.

16 Williams v Spautz (1992) 174 CLR 509, 520 (Mason CJ, Dawson, Toohey and McHugh JJ); R v Szabo [2001] 2 Qd R 214, 215–6 [6] (De Jersey CJ).

17 Grimwade v Meagher [1995] 1 VR 446, 452;Tony Strickland (a pseudonym) v Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (2018) 93 ALJR 1, 23 (Kiefel CJ, Bell and Nettle JJ). See also Roberts v The Queen [2020] VSCA 277 [259] (T Forrest and Osborn JJA and Taylor AJA).

18 Baini v The Queen (2012) 246 CLR 469, 479–81 (French CJ, Hayne, Crennan, Kiefel and Bell JJ).

19 See AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [135] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA), affirming AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [299] (Ginnane J), which cited R v Reed [2003] VSCA 95, [2] (Winneke P); R v Mokbel ('Change of Pleas’) (2012) 35 VR 156, 176-7 [261]–[264] (Whelan J); R v KCH (2001) 124 A Crim R 233.

20 See cases in Judicial College of Victoria, Victorian Criminal Proceedings Manual: 20.4.1.7 – Appeal Against Conviction Following Guilty Plea (Web page) < https://www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/VCPM/index.htm#27874.ht…;.

21 Peters v The Queen (No 2) [2019] VSCA 292, [39] (Maxwell P, Kaye and McLeish JJA); Weston (a Pseudonym) v The Queen (2015) 48 VR 413, 445–6 [109(11)] (Redlich JA); R v Murphy [1965] VR 187, 190 (Sholl J)., 190 (Sholl J).

22 Kohari v The Queen [2017] VSCA 33.

23 R v KCH (2001) 124 A Crim R 233; Guariglia v The Queen (2010) 208 A Crim R 49; Meissner v The Queen (1995) 184 CLR 132, 142 (Brennan, Toohey and McHugh JJ).

24 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [299] (Ginnane J); KCH v R [2001] NSWCCA 273; (2001) 124 A Crim R 233.;

25 See AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338, [135] (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

26 Meissner v The Queen (1995) 184 CLR 132, 142 (Brennan, Toohey and McHugh JJ).

27 See Theodoropoulos v The Queen (2015) 51 VR 1.

28 Dietrich v The Queen (1992) 177 CLR 292. 292.

29 TKWJ v The Queen (2002) 212 CLR 124, [76] (McHugh J).

30 R v Birks (1990) 19 NSWLR 677, 685.

31 R v Birks (1990) 19 NSWLR 677; Nudd v The Queen [2006] HCA 9;TKWJ v The Queen (2002) 212 CLR 124.

32 TKWJ v The Queen (2002) 212 CLR 124, [76] (McHugh J).

33 TKWJ v The Queen (2002) 212 CLR 124, [85] (McHugh J).

34 TKWJ v The Queen (2002) 212 CLR 124, [85] (McHugh J); R v Birks (1990) 19 NSWLR 677, 703 (Lusher LJ); Seymour v The Queen (2006) 162 A Crim R 576; Tuckiar v The King (1934) 52 CLR 335.

35 Nudd v The Queen [2006] HCA 9, [44] (Kirby J).

36 Nudd v The Queen [2006] HCA 9, [100] (Kirby J).

37 Tuckiar v The King (1934) 52 CLR 335, 346–7 (Gavan Duffy CJ, Dixon, Evatt and McTiernan JJ), 354–5 (Starke J).

38 Tuckiar v The King (1934) 52 CLR 335, 346–7 (Gavan Duffy CJ, Dixon, Evatt and McTiernan JJ), 354–5 (Starke J).

39 Tuckiar v The King (1934) 52 CLR 335, 346–7 (Gavan Duffy CJ, Dixon, Evatt and McTiernan JJ).

40 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 513 [11] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA).

41 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 513 [12] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA).

42 R v Szabo [2001] 2 Qd R 214.

43 R v Szabo [2001] 2 Qd R 214, 229 (Thomas JA).

44 R v Szabo [2001] 2 Qd R 214, 215–6 (De Jersey CJ), 234 (Thomas JA).

45 R v Szabo [2001] 2 Qd R 214, 215 (De Jersey CJ).

46 R v Szabo [2001] 2 Qd R 214, 228 (Thomas JA).

47 Roberts v The Queen [2020] VSCA 58, [56] (Osborn and T Forrest JJA, and Taylor AJA).

48 Mallard v The Queen (2005) HCA 68, 8-9 [16] (Gummow, Hayne, Callinan and Heydon JJ); Grey v The Queen (2001) 184 ALR 593; R v Farquharson (2009) 26 VR 410, 464 [210]–[212] (Warren CJ, Nettle and Redlich JJA).

49 Roberts v The Queen [2020] VSCA 58, [56] (Osborn and T Forrest JJA, and Taylor AJA); AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [54] (Ginnane J).

50 Mallard v The Queen (2005) 224 CLR 125, 133 (Gummow, Hayne, Callinan and Heydon JJ); R v Farquharson (2019) 26 VR 410; Roberts v The Queen [2020] VSCA 58, [56] (Osborn and T Forrest JJA, and Taylor AJA); Roberts v The Queen [2020] VSCA 277 [19] (T Forrest and Osborn JJA and Taylor AJA).

51 Grey v The Queen (2001) 75 ALJR 1708, 1710–11 [8]–[9], 1713 [23] (Gleeson CJ, Gummow and Callinan JJ), 1718 [49]–[50] (Kirby J); Mallard v The Queen (2005) 224 CLR 125, 133 [17] (Gummow, Hayne, Callinan and Heydon JJ), 148 [57], 156 [84] (Kirby J); Roberts v The Queen [2020] VSCA 277 [258]–[259] (T Forrest and Osborn JJA and Taylor AJA).

52 R v Ward [1993] 1 WLR 619, 642 (Glidewell, Nolan and Steyn LJJ).

53 Cvetanovski v The Queen [2020] VSCA 272, [7]–[8] (Maxwell P, Beach and Weinberg JJA).

54 Cvetanovski v The Queen [2020] VSCA 272, [6] (Maxwell P, Beach and Weinberg JJA).

55 Cvetanovski v The Queen [2020] VSCA 272, [10] (Maxwell P, Beach and Weinberg JJA).

56 Lee v The Queen [2014] HCA 20, [51] (French CJ, Crennan, Kiefel, Bell, Keane JJ).

57 Lee v The Queen [2014] HCA 20, [43] (French CJ, Crennan, Kiefel, Bell, Keane JJ).

58 Lee v The Queen [2014] HCA 20, [51] (emphasis added) (French CJ, Crennan, Kiefel, Bell and Keane JJ).

59 Lee v The Queen [2014] HCA 20, [44] (French CJ, Crennan, Kiefel, Bell and Keane JJ).

60 Lee v The Queen [2014] HCA 20, [44] (French CJ, Crennan, Kiefel, Bell and Keane JJ).

61 Kadir v The Queen; Grech v The Queen (2020) 94 ALJR 168, 173 [12]–[13] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Keane, Nettle and Edelman JJ).

62 DPP v Marijancevic; DPP v Preece; DPP v Preece (2011) 33 VR 440, 445 [18] (Warren CJ, Buchanan and Redlich JJA), citing Bunning v Cross (1978) 141 CLR 54.

63 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 138(3).

64 Tasmania v Crane (2004) 148 A Crim R 346, 354 [21] (Blow J). See also Slater (A Pseudonym) v The Queen [2019] VSCA 213 [57]; R v Hunt (2014) 286 FLR 59, 85–6 [149] (Hiley J).

65 See Director of Public Prosecutions v Marijancevic (2011) 33 VR 440, 458 [67] (Warren CJ, Buchanan and Redlich JJA); DPP (Cth) v Farmer (a Pseudonym) (2017) 54 VR 420, 435 [56]–[57], 436 [63] (Maxwell P and Beach JA).

66 See DPP v Carr (2002) 127 A Crim R 151, 159 [34] (Smart AJ).

67 Ridgeway v The Queen (1995) 184 CLR 19, 36 (Mason CJ, Deane and Dawson JJ).

68 Robinson v Woolworths Ltd (2005) 64 NSWLR 612, 622 [36] (Basten JA).

69 Dictionary to the Evidence Act 2008 (Vic), Pt 1 and Pt 2 cl 9.

70 R v Hill (2012) 6 ACTLR 167, 185 [98]-[99] (Refshauge J); R v Petroulias [No 8] (2007) 175 A Crim R 417, 425 [25] (Johnson J).

71 Re Lee (2009) 212 A Crim R 442, 449 [31] (Penfold J); DPP v Kaba (2014) 44 VR 526, 618 [337], 648 [472] (Bell J).

72 Slater (A Pseudonym) v The Queen [2019] VSCA 213, [44]–[45] (McLeish and Weinberg JJA and Tinney AJA).

73 See, eg, R v AHK [2001] VSCA 220; Roberts v The Queen [2020] VSCA 277 [19], [156] (T Forrest and Osborn JJA and Taylor AJA).

74 R v Kucma (2005) 11 VR 472; Lawless v The Queen (1979) 142 CLR 659; Mickelberg v The Queen (1989) 167 CLR 259.

75 Rodi v Western Australia (2018) 265 CLR 254, 262 [26], 263–4 [28]–[30] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Keane, Nettle and Gordon JJ).

76 See Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting Submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 1, 75 [326], 88–9, 117–18.

77 Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) sch 1.

78 Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) sch 1 cl 297(1). Unsatisfactory professional conduct includes ‘conduct of a lawyer occurring in connection with the practice of law that falls short of the standard of competence and diligence that a member of the public is entitled to expect of a reasonably competent lawyer’: cl 296.

79 Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) sch 1 cl 298.

80 Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic) sch 1 cl 298(a), (b), (e).

81 The Uniform Conduct Rules came into operation on 1 July 2015: Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, r 2. Prior to this, the conduct rules applying to barristers were set out in the Victorian Bar Practice Rules 1998 (Vic).

82 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, rr 4, 23.

83 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, rr 8, 24, 49.

84 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, r 35.

85 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, rr 114–22.

86 Breen v Williams (1996) 186 CLR 71, 113 (Gaudron and McHugh JJ); see also Pilmer v Duke Group Ltd (in liq) (2001) 207 CLR 165, 197–8 [74] (McHugh, Gummow, Hayne and Callinan JJ), and Howard v Commissioner of Taxation (2014) 253 CLR 83, 99 [32] (French CJ and Keane J).

87 ‘Solicitors’ Duties to Clients’, The Law Society of New South Wales (Web Page) < www.lawsociety.com.au/for-the-public/going-court-and-working-with-lawye…;.

88 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, rr 114, 115, 122. See Chapter 4 for a detailed discussion of the duty of confidentiality and the exceptions to it.

89 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) ss 117–26.

90 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, r 101(b).

91 Maguire v Makaronis (1997) 188 CLR 449, 466.8 (Brennan CJ, Gaudron, McHugh and Gummow JJ), 495.9 (Kirby J).

92 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, r 9(b).

93 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, r 119.

94 Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, rr 101, 118.

95 Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic), cl 150A. See also Victorian Legal Services Board v Gobbo [2020] VSC 692, [7] in which Justice Forbes explained that the purpose of an order removing a practitioner from the roll is protective and not punitive: ‘The protective nature of the power is broader than simply protection of the public from misconduct by practitioners. It is to ensure protection of the standing of the legal profession generally, and to strengthen community confidence in the legal system and its institutions including the courts and participants in the justice system both civil and criminal’.

96 See Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 320; Meissner v The Queen (1994) 184 CLR 132; R v Rogerson (1992) 174 CLR 268.

97 Such a proceeding may be based in contract or equity. A person taking action based on equitable principles may be prevented from any remedy if they do not have ‘clean hands’; that is, if their own conduct in connection with the claim involved a degree of legal or moral wrongdoing. See Dering v Earl of Winchelsea (1787) 1 Cox 318, 319–20; 29 ER 1184, 1185 (Lord Chief Baron Eyre).

98 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) s 50, sch 2 form 1.

99 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) s 51.

100 Hinchcliffe v Commissioner of Australian Federal Police (2001) 118 FCR 308, 319–20 [33] (Kenny J); State of NSW v Tyszyk [2008] NSWCA 117 (Campbell JA).

101 State of NSW v Tyszyk [2008] NSWCA 107, [83] (Campbell JA).

102 Sankey v Whitlam (1978) 142 CLR 1, 38 (Gibbs ACJ).

103 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) ss 4(1)(d), 38; DPP v Kaba (2014) 44 VR 526, 647 [466] (Bell J).

104 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) ss 2(2), 49(3).

105 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) ss 125, 166; Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic) s 5.

106 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) s 125.

107 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) s 166; Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic) s 5.

108 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) pts 7, 9, 10; Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic) pt 3.

109 Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, Audit of Victoria Police Complaints Handling Systems at Regional Level (Report, September 2016) 14. Admonishment notices are not part of the discipline regime under the Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) and are designed as an alternative to the formal discipline process. They are used when a minor breach of discipline has been substantiated.

110 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) s 132. The breach of discipline process applies only to serving officers, and not to former officers. Former members of Victoria Police can only be charged with accessing, using or disclosing police information: s 227.

111 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 320; R v Quach (2010) 27 VR 310; DPP v Marks [2005] VSCA 277.

112 Lockwood v Commonwealth (1954) 90 CLR 177, 181 (Fullagar J); see also McGuinness v Attorney-General (Vic) (1940) 63 CLR 73, 84 (Latham CJ).

113 The Commission notes that in October 2020, the Legal Services Board applied to the Supreme Court of Victoria to have Ms Gobbo’s name removed from the roll of legal practitioners pursuant to section 23(1) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic): see Victorian Legal Services Board v Gobbo [2020] VSC 692 (Forbes J).

114 Australian Communications and Media Authority v Today FM (Sydney) Pty Ltd (2015) CLR 352; see also Hall, Investigating Corruption and Misconduct in Public Office: Commissions of Inquiry—Powers and Procedures (Lawbook Co, 2004), [12.55].

115 Australian Communications and Media Authority v Today FM (Sydney) Pty Ltd (2015) CLR 352 [41].

116 Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct (Final Report, 3 July 1989) 8–9. Similar positions were adopted in the Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service (commonly known as the ‘Wood Royal Commission’), the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, and Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

117 See, eg, Balog v Independent Commission Against Corruption (1990) 169 CLR 625.

118 Australian Communications and Media Authority v Today FM (Sydney) Pty Ltd (2015) CLR 352, 371–2 [33]–[34].

119 Australian Communications and Media Authority v Today FM (Sydney) Pty Ltd (2015) CLR 352, 379 [58]–[59].

120 See Balog v Independent Commission Against Corruption (1990) 169 CLR 625 [22], in which the High Court noted that there may be a fine line between making a finding and merely reporting the results of an investigation.

121 Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (Interim Report, December 2014) vol 1, 28 [31], 31 [40], 34 [49]–[50].

122 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 40(1). The prohibition does not apply to documents or things that are able to be obtained independently of their production to the royal commission: s 40(2). Evidence given before a royal commission is admissible in proceedings for offences under the Inquiries Act and for destruction of evidence and perjury offences under sections 254 and 314 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

123 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [10] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

124 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 4 [10] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

125 See Thiess v Collector of Customs (2014) 250 CLR 664, 671, 672 [23] (French CJ, Hayne, Kiefel, Gageler and Keane JJ); Project Blue Sky Inc v Australian Broadcasting Authority (1998) 194 CLR 355, 381 [69] (McHugh, Gummow, Kirby and Hayne JJ), cited with approval in Independent Commission Against Corruption v Cunneen (2015) 261 CLR 1, 20–1 [31] (French CJ, Hayne, Kiefel and Nettle JJ).

126 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting Submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 226–27 [1034].

127 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting Submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 250 [1081.1]–[1081.2].

128 Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Commissioner’s reasons for decision that the royal commission has jurisdiction to make findings of statutory misconduct by named current or former police officers (28 August 2020).

129 Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, Commissioner’s reasons for decision that the royal commission has jurisdiction to make findings of statutory misconduct by named current or former police officers (28 August 2020).

130 Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) pt 7 div 1.

131 Responsive submission, Ms Nicola Gobbo, 14 August 2020, 6 [25], 47 [149], 60 [193], 215 [690].

132 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting Submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 225–26 [1036]–[1037], 249 [1082], 486 [1936], 487 [1938].

133 Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [11] 26–7; Responsive submission, Victoria Police (specified former and current officers), 17 August 2020, 9–10 [2]–[3.2]; Responsive submission, Mr Simon Overland, 18 August 2020, 9 [24]–[25], 10–17 [28]–[49]; Responsive Submission, Six former officers of the Source Development Unit, 7 August 2020, 140 [320]–[321].

134 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 1, 247–8 [1081]–[1084], 489–90 [1936]–[1938].

135 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 40(1).

136 Victorian Legal Services Board v Gobbo [2020] VSC 692, [50] (Forbes J).

137 See Easton v Griffiths (1995) 69 ALJR 669, 672 [12] (Toohey J): ‘[i]t is for the Commissioner to determine the scope of [the] inquiry, subject to any decision on the matter by a court of competent jurisdiction’.

138 See Patrick Weller (ed) Royal Commissions and the Making of Public Policy (Macmillan Education Centre Pty Ltd, 1994), Preface, x, cited in Hall, Investigating Corruption and Misconduct in Public Office: Commissions of Inquiry—Powers and Procedures (Lawbook Co, 2004), 536 [9.105].

139 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1 [10] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).

140 The date when Ms Gobbo met with the Australian Federal Police and discussed her willingness to act as a human source, and which is also the first identified occasion on which she indicated her willingness to act as a human source after her admission as a legal practitioner.

141 The date of the last recorded instance of Ms Gobbo representing someone in court.

142 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting Submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 1, Annexure A, 119–32.

143 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting Submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 1, 42 [183].

144 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 12.

145 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 14.

146 R v The War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal; Ex Parte Bott (1933) 50 CLR 228, 256 (Evatt J).

147 Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336.

148 Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) s 140(1).

149 Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336, 361–2.

150 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) ss 12(a), 36; Annetts v McCann (1990) 170 CLR 596, 598 (Mason CJ, Deane and McHugh JJ).

151 Annetts v McCann (1990) 170 CLR 596, 598 (Mason CJ, Deane and McHugh JJ); Plaintiff S10/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (2012) 246 CLR 636, [97] (Gummow, Hayne, Crennan and Bell JJ).

152 Kioa v West (1985) 159 CLR 550, 584–5 (Mason J); Annetts v McCann (1990) 170 CLR 596, 598 (Mason CJ, Deane and McHugh JJ); Ainsworth v Criminal Justice Commission (1992) 175 CLR 564, 577 (Mason CJ, Dawson, Toohey and Gaudron JJ).

153 Kioa v West (1985) 159 CLR 550, 617 (Brennan J).

154 Kioa v West (1985) 159 CLR 550, 616–7 (Brennan J); Plaintiff S10/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (2012) 246 CLR 636, 658–9 [66] (Gummow, Hayne, Crennan and Bell JJ).

155 See the discussion in Mark Aronson and Matthew Groves, Judicial Review of Administrative Action (Lawbook Co, 5th ed, 2013) [7.90].

156 See SZBEL v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (2006) 228 CLR 152; Commissioner for Australian Capital Territory Revenue v Alphaone Pty Ltd (1994) FLR 576; Lawrie v Lawler (2016) 168 NTR 1.

157 Kioa v West (1985) 159 CLR 550, 585 (Mason J), 613 (Brennan J).

158 New South Wales v Canellis (1994) 181 CLR 309, 324–5, 331 (Mason CJ, Dawson, Toohey and McHugh JJ).

159 Lawrie v Lawler (2016) 39 NTR 1, 69 [333], 73–4 [353] (Heenan AJ).

160 Annetts v McCann (1990) 170 CLR 596, 600–1.

161 Ebner v Official Trustee in Bankruptcy (2000) 205 CLR 337, 344, 345 [6] (Gleeson CJ, McHugh, Gummow and Hayne JJ).

162 Gild v The Queen [2017] VSCA 367 [24] (Kyrou and Coghlan JJA); Johnson (2000) 201 CLR 488, 493 [13].

163 Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs v Jia Legeng (2001) 205 CLR 507, 532 [72].

164 R v Carter; Ex parte Gray (1991) 14 Tas R 247, 260–3 [29]–[34]; Carruthers v Connolly [1998] 1 Qd R 339, 3458; Keating v Morris [2005] QSC 243, [46] (Moynihan J).

165 Firman v Lasry [2000] VSC 240, [28]; Victoria Police Special Operations Group Operators 16, 34, 41 and 64 v Coroners Court of Victoria (2013) 42 VR 1, 15 [46].

166 McCloy v Latham [2015] NSWSC 1879.

167 McCloy v Latham [2015] NSWSC 1879.

168 Firman v Lasry [2000] VSC 240, [22] (Ashley J).

169 Kioa v West (1985) 159 CLR 550.

170 Responsive submission, Ms Nicola Gobbo, 14 August 2020, i–iii, 16–25.

171 Responsive submission, Six former officers of the Source Development Unit, 7 August 2020, 8–10, 13, 21.

172 Responsive submission, Six former officers of the Source Development Unit, 7 August 2020, 11–17; Responsive submission, Ms Nicola Gobbo, 14 August 2020, 17–20; Responsive submission, Mr Simon Overland, 18 August 2020, 18; Responsive submission, Victoria Police (specified former and current officers), 17 August 2020, [7.3]; Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 25 August 2020, [14.16].

173 Responsive submission, Mr Graham Ashton, 7 August 2020, 5; Responsive submission, Mr Simon Overland, 18 August 2020, 5, 18; Responsive submission, Ms Nicola Gobbo, 14 August 2020, 18; Responsive submission, Six former officers of the Source Development Unit, 7 August 2020, 17–19; Responsive submission, Victoria Police (specified former and current officers), 17 August 2020, [7.3]; Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [14.16].

174 Responsive submission, Mr Graham Ashton, 7 August 2020, 3–6; Responsive submission, Mr Simon Overland, 18 August 2020, 18; Responsive submission, Mr Simon Overland, 28 August 2020; Responsive submission, Ms Nicola Gobbo, 14 August 2020, 11–16; Responsive submission, Victoria Police (specified former and current officers), 17 August 2020, [7.3], [7.6].

175 Responsive submission, Ms Nicola Gobbo, 14 August 2020, i, 11–16; Responsive submission, Victoria Police (specified former and current officers), 17 August 2020, [7.3]; Responsive submission, Six former officers of the Source Development Unit, 7 August 2020, 8.

176 Responsive submission, Mr Simon Overland, 18 August 2020, 1–2, 18–19; Responsive submission, Victoria Police (specified former and current officers), 17 August 2020, 6 [1.31].

177 See Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 rr 8, 65, 97–9.

178 More detailed responses to each of the allegations of bias on the part of Counsel Assisting are set out in Counsel Assisting reply submissions: Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting reply submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (21 September 2020) 27–61.

179 Inquiries Act 2014 (Vic) s 3.

180 Other examples include the Commission’s decision to accept (on an interim basis) Victoria Police’s PII claims in relation to exhibits, even though Counsel Assisting had advised against such an approach: see Email from the Commission to Victoria Police, 23 December 2019. See also its decision to close hearings at the request of a party, despite Counsel Assisting submitting that evidence should be heard in public: see Transcript of Mr Paul Rowe, 13 November 2019, 9225–6.

181 More detailed responses to each of the allegations of failure to provide procedural fairness are set out in Counsel Assisting reply submissions: Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, ‘Counsel Assisting reply submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2’, Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (21 September 2020) 8–27.


Chapter 6

Chronology of key events

Introduction

This chapter outlines the key periods of interaction between Ms Nicola Gobbo and Victoria Police and associated events from 1993 to 2018. It details Ms Gobbo’s history of providing information to Victoria Police and her three registrations as a human source, based on evidence provided to the Commission during its inquiry.

These events are explored in more detail in Volume II of this final report, which examines the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police officers. The narrative presented in this chapter does not seek to interrogate the evidence of witnesses or the material received by the Commission. That is reserved for later chapters.

The first part of this chapter addresses Ms Gobbo’s interactions with Victoria Police between 1993 and 1999. Following a search of Ms Gobbo’s property in 1993, she was charged with drug offences and provided information to police about her then de facto partner, leading to her first registration as a human source in 1995. After being admitted to practise as a lawyer in 1997, Ms Gobbo gave Victoria Police information about her employer at the time, leading to her second registration as a human source in 1999.

The second part of this chapter outlines Ms Gobbo’s involvement with Victoria Police between 2000 and 2005. During this time, she continued to provide information to Victoria Police informally. This period also covers the escalation of Melbourne’s ‘gangland wars’ and Ms Gobbo’s representation of Mr McGrath (a pseudonym), who provided evidence against several criminal identities. In 2003–04, Ms Gobbo had a series of conversations with officers of Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce, which was investigating several murders associated with the gangland wars. These conversations laid the groundwork for Ms Gobbo’s most prolific period of informing, between 2005 and 2009.

The third part of this chapter outlines events that occurred between 2005 and 2009, when Ms Gobbo wasregistered as a human source for the third time and, through almost daily contact with Victoria Police’s Source Development Unit (SDU), provided information about many individuals involved in organised crime, including her clients. Ms Gobbo’s role as a human source ended when Victoria Police tried to transition her to the role of a witness in two high-profile investigations.

The final part of this chapter provides an overview of the period from 2010 to 2018, starting with Ms Gobbo’s decision to commence civil litigation against Victoria Police. After she was withdrawn as a witness, a series of confidential external reviews were undertaken into Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source. This resulted in Victoria Police pursuing court proceedings to suppress her identity and, in 2018, to the establishment of the Commission.

1993 to 2000: Initial involvement with Victoria Police and use as a human source

An overview of Ms Gobbo’s initial involvement with Victoria Police is outlined in Figure 6.1 and discussed below.

Figure 6.1: Timeline of Ms Gobbo’s initial involvement with Victoria Police, 1993 to 2000
1993

September: Ms Gobbo’s first known contact with Victoria Police. Ms Gobbo is living in a house in Carlton, Melbourne, with her de facto partner Mr Brian Wilson. Her house is raided by police and she informs them of drugs located at the property.

November: Ms Gobbo pleads guilty to the possession and use of amphetamine and cannabis.

1994

September 1994–July 1995: Then Sergeant Trevor Ashton meets with Ms Gobbo to discuss Mr Wilson’s activities.

1995

3 April: Ms Gobbo’s house is raided again, and Mr Wilson is arrested.

July: Ms Gobbo is registered as a human source for the first time by Victoria Police’s District Support Group ‘A’, to provide information about Mr Wilson.

1997

7 April: Ms Gobbo is admitted to practise as a lawyer in Victoria.

December 1997–May 1999: Ms Gobbo provides information to Victoria Police about her employer, Solicitor 1 (a pseudonym). She also provides information to the Australian Federal Police and the National Crime Authority about her employer.

1999

26 May: Ms Gobbo is registered as a human source for the second time to provide information about Solicitor 1.

May–July: Ms Gobbo speaks to police about Solicitor 1.

2000

3 January: Ms Gobbo’s status as a human source is reclassified to ‘inactive’ as Victoria Police has not had contact with her for several months.]

Ms Gobbo’s first contact with Victoria Police (Operation Yak)

Ms Gobbo’s first relevant contact with Victoria Police was in September 1993. At the time, she was a law student at the University of Melbourne.

Ms Gobbo lived with her de facto partner, Mr Brian Wilson, in a house in Rathdowne Street, Carlton.1 They had bought the property in July 1993 as tenants in common.2 At the time, Mr Wilson worked as a hotel bouncer.3 Ms Gobbo later said that she became acquainted with Mr Wilson about three months before they bought the property.4

On 19 August 1993, Victoria Police received a Crime Stoppers tip-off alleging that Mr Wilson was trafficking drugs, and launched an investigation known as ‘Operation Yak’.5

On 3 September 1993, Victoria Police executed a search warrant on the property. Among the officers present at the raid were then Sergeant Trevor Ashton, Sergeant Michael Holding and Constable Peter Trichias.6 Ms Gobbo was not present when police initially entered and began searching the house at about 5.25 pm. She arrived around two hours later.7 During a search of Ms Gobbo’s bedroom, officers found a small amount of cannabis and amphetamine in a cigarette packet in a chest of drawers.8

During the search, Ms Gobbo informed Mr Ashton that drugs were hidden behind a vent in the laundry.9 A search of the vent revealed two bags of amphetamine.10 A total of three pounds of amphetamine and three-quarters of a pound of cannabis were seized.11

Ms Gobbo was charged with use and possession of cannabis and amphetamine.12 Mr Wilson was charged with trafficking, use and possession of a drug of dependence. Ms Gobbo admitted that she knew that drugs were being kept at the premises, but denied being involved in the trafficking operation.13 Mr Holding recalled that the evidence against her in relation to the trafficking operation was not strong.14 He also recalled his impression of Ms Gobbo as ‘very confident and opinionated. I felt that she thought the process was like a game’.15

In late September 1993, Ms Gobbo spoke with Mr Holding about providing a statement against Mr Wilson, though she did not ultimately make any statement to police.16

On 29 November 1993, Ms Gobbo pleaded guilty to the possession and use of amphetamine and cannabis and received a 12-month good behaviour bond without the recording of a conviction. Mr Wilson received a sentence of eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months.

Later police intelligence revealed that Ms Gobbo was considered a ‘significant’ supplier of drugs at the University of Melbourne.17

Ms Gobbo’s initial registration as a human source

Throughout 1994 and 1995, Mr Trevor Ashton remained in contact with Ms Gobbo. He led a team in District Support Group ‘A’ (DSG-A) and was the primary point of contact between Victoria Police and Ms Gobbo. The core functions of the DSG-A included detection and investigation of drug-related offending, as well as other crimes. Mr Ashton met Ms Gobbo several times at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where she had a part-time job with a catering company.18 A member of his team, then Constable Timothy (Tim) Argall, also attended at least one of those meetings.19

Then Senior Constable Rodney (Rod) Arthur also recalled meeting with Mr Ashton and Ms Gobbo in early 1995 on about three occasions on the street near the old Magistrates’ Court.20 Mr Arthur did not recall Ms Gobbo providing any information valuable to an investigation during these meetings.21 In his statement, Mr Arthur said that he recalled Mr Ashton telling him prior to the meeting that Ms Gobbo’s father was a judge.22 In fact, for many years, her uncle served as a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

On 3 April 1995, another search warrant was executed at Ms Gobbo’s home in Rathdowne Street. Small quantities of drugs were seized during the raid, and Mr Wilson was charged with possession and use of cannabis. He was ultimately convicted of these offences and fined $500. Ms Gobbo was not present at the time, nor was she charged with any offences arising from this search warrant.

In July 1995, due to the information that Ms Gobbo was providing to police about Mr Wilson, Mr Ashton and Mr Argall registered her as a human source.23 The following details were included in the registration form:

Informer is a law student at Melbourne [University] currently living with a known criminal. She was charged with [possessing amphetamine] last year as a result of the criminal that was living with her, is quite reliable and seeking a career as a solicitor.24

The registration form specified that the reason for Ms Gobbo being registered as a human source was that she ‘genuinely want[ed] to assist police’. Mr Ashton thought that it was likely that she was registered as a human source due to the ‘substantial’ nature of the information that she was providing.25

At that time, Victoria Police’s process for registering a human source involved an officer giving a registration form in an unsealed envelope to a more senior officer, who would review the information and seal the envelope. A number would then be allocated to the human source.26

Ms Gobbo’s registration number was ‘G3/95’.27

On 12 July 1995, Mr Ashton and Mr Argall took Ms Gobbo to the St Kilda Road Police Station to meet officers of the Special Response Squad.28 The purpose of the meeting was for Ms Gobbo to provide information to Victoria Police about Mr Wilson’s involvement in drug trafficking and firearm possession.29

Throughout the latter part of 1995, Ms Gobbo continued to give information about Mr Wilson to police.30 The Commission understands that Victoria Police has not located any contact reports or information reports (IRs) made by officers documenting their interactions with Ms Gobbo during this period.31

Ms Gobbo is a ‘loose cannon’ (Operation Scorn)

By February 1996, Victoria Police had started another operation in relation to Mr Wilson, known as ‘Operation Scorn’.

In March 1996, police discontinued that operation. At the time, then Detective Senior Sergeant John (Jack) Blayney, APM noted in a report that Ms Gobbo was a ‘loose cannon’ because she was ‘making her own arrangements and not liaising with investigators’.32 He also noted that Ms Gobbo was the ‘informer re ALP/LIB document leaked prior to election’. This was a reference to a recent public dispute that Ms Gobbo was believed to have involved herself in that was occurring between Victorian political parties concerning the source of a forged letter.33

Later, in 2006 and 2007, Mr Blayney came across Ms Gobbo again, when he was a Detective Superintendent and held the position of Major Crime Tasking and Coordination Manager within the Crime Department.

In a statement to the Commission, then Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, APM, Intelligence and Covert Support Command, noted that it is unlikely that the observation that Ms Gobbo was a ‘loose cannon’ would have been known by other officers who later had contact with her, as Victoria Police did not keep an electronic database of information relevant to human sources at the time.34

Ms Gobbo’s admission to practise as a lawyer

On 7 April 1997, Ms Gobbo was admitted to practise as a lawyer in Victoria.35 She completed her articles at Molomby & Molomby Solicitors.36

In her affidavit to the Board of Examiners dated 4 February 1997, Ms Gobbo set out details of her arrest in 1993.37 She described Mr Wilson as a friend who had moved in with her to help with the mortgage, rather than as her de facto partner and a co-owner of her property. She said that she had contacted Victoria Police upon becoming suspicious that Mr Wilson was engaging in drug-related criminal activities and further, that when the police found the drugs at the premises, she had been ‘embarrassed’ and ‘shocked’ as she did not know what had been happening at her house.

Ms Gobbo did not mention that drugs had been located in her bedroom or that she had been found in possession of them, nor that she had shown police where three pounds of amphetamine was hidden. Instead she stated that she had been deemed liable because she was the owner and occupier of the premises where the drugs were found and had followed advice to plead guilty, feeling no other option was available to her.38

Ms Gobbo provides information to police about her employer

By November 1997, Ms Gobbo had left Molomby & Molomby Solicitors and moved to a different Melbourne law firm, Law Firm 1 (a pseudonym). That firm was acting for a number of people charged with drug offences arising from an investigation by the Victoria Police Drug Squad.39 Officer Kruger (a pseudonym) was the informant (the officer responsible for charging the accused person) in proceedings related to some of the accused persons.40

Between 1997 and 1998, Mr Kruger had a number of meetings and telephone conversations with Ms Gobbo about the investigation.41 At some point, Ms Gobbo made allegations to Mr Kruger that her employer, Solicitor 1 (a pseudonym), was engaging in fraudulent activity.42

In July 1998, Mr Kruger and then Detective Senior Constable Christopher Lim, also an officer in the Drug Squad, met Ms Gobbo in relation to Solicitor 1.43 Mr Kruger prepared an IR, which recorded that during the meeting, Ms Gobbo alleged that Solicitor 1 was involved in money laundering.44

Mr Lim thought that it was inappropriate for Ms Gobbo to be used as a human source because she was a lawyer. He also felt she had inappropriate relationships with police officers and was too ‘overt’ in her desire to provide information to police.45

In November 1998, Ms Gobbo left Law Firm 1 to become a barrister.

Around the same time, Ms Gobbo considered undertaking a thesis about police powers of investigation, including the use of undercover operatives and human sources.46

Ms Gobbo’s early conflicts of interest

Representation of Mr Dragan Arnautovic

On 18 November 1997, Mr Dragan Arnautovic was arrested and charged by the Victoria Police Drug Squad in relation to commercial drug trafficking offences. He was subsequently sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of nine years.47 Ms Gobbo represented Mr Arnautovic, both while as a solicitor employed at Law Firm 1 and after she became a barrister, including appearing as junior counsel at his trial.

While representing Mr Arnautovic, Ms Gobbo also represented other accused persons who had been arrested as part of the same investigation. Evidence before the Commission indicates that there may have been a conflict between the interests of these clients.48

Throughout this period, Ms Gobbo was communicating with then Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Strawhorn of the Drug Squad about another client. According to Mr Strawhorn’s diaries and day books, he and Ms Gobbo met on around nine occasions between May 1998 and August 1999, including six times in relation to some of the clients she was representing referred to above.49

Ms Gobbo acknowledged that during meetings with Mr Strawhorn, he was able to elicit from her information that she had gained in her role as a lawyer acting for people charged by the Drug Squad, and that it was improper for her to provide this information.50

Operation Ramsden

Evidence before the Commission suggests that, around this time, Victoria Police Drug Squad officers investigated whether Ms Gobbo’s then employer, Solicitor 1, was engaging in criminal activity.51 On 2 February 1998, Ms Gobbo recorded in her diary a conversation with then Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Bowden and Mr Kruger. Her notes indicate that they pressured her to help the investigation by implicating Solicitor 1 and told her that her name had appeared ‘on tapes’.52 She wrote in her diary ‘mud sticks; get a raincoat soon’.53

Between May and October 1998, Ms Gobbo met with officers of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) a number of times, and provided information about Solicitor 1, along with information about her clients.54 The AFP told the Commission that Ms Gobbo was never registered as a human source for that agency.55

The following year, on 28 April 1999, Mr Kruger told then Detective Senior Constable Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope of the Asset Recovery Squad about Ms Gobbo’s information that Solicitor 1, her now former employer, had engaged in money laundering.56

The Asset Recovery Squad began an investigation into Solicitor 1 known as ‘Operation Ramsden’.57 At this time, the Asset Recovery Squad was part of the Crime Department in the Major Fraud Group at Victoria Police. It investigated activities including the confiscation of illicit profits pursuant to the Confiscation Act 1997 (Vic) and often interacted with the Drug Squad because of the common cross-overs in their investigations.58

Officers of the Asset Recovery Squad and the Drug Squad met several times about this investigation. A former Victoria Police officer recalled that these meetings often occurred in the open area muster room of the Drug Squad. Consequently, he believed many people may have known that Ms Gobbo was providing information to Victoria Police.59

On 12 May 1999, there was another meeting between Mr Kruger, Mr Strawhorn, Mr Pope and then Detective Sergeant Gavan Segrave, who was also an officer in the Asset Recovery Squad. Mr Kruger recalled that the likely purpose of that meeting was to prepare for the introduction of Ms Gobbo to the Asset Recovery Squad.60

Later that day, Mr Strawhorn and Mr Kruger introduced Mr Pope to Ms Gobbo at the Emerald Hotel in South Melbourne, where they met to discuss her allegations about Solicitor 1.61 This meeting lasted a couple of hours.62

The following day, Mr Pope applied to register Ms Gobbo as a human source.63 In this application, he stated that she was to provide information largely related to ‘fraud/money laundering’. The application also included her criminal record.

On 17 May 1999, Mr Pope and Mr Segrave met with Ms Gobbo to discuss her allegations against Solicitor 1. Mr Pope’s IR recorded that she had made a range of allegations against Solicitor 1, including that he was:

  • fraudulently charging clients eligible for funding from Legal Aid, and simultaneously receiving payments from Legal Aid
  • charging clients for money that was already paid under cost certificates
  • breaching his obligations in relation to his trust account
  • breaching his obligations under the Legal Practice Act 1996 (Vic).64

On 26 May 1999, Mr Segrave approved the application to register Ms Gobbo as a human source. Mr Pope was assigned as her handler. In Mr Segrave’s comments on the application recommending her registration, he noted:

It is believed [Ms Gobbo] will be an ongoing source of info re money laundering/fraud activities. Is both credible/reput … informer had no known previous history of supplying information to law enforcement agencies.65

Ms Gobbo’s registration number was ‘MFG 13’.66

In a statement to the Commission, Mr Segrave noted that Victoria Police policy at the time would have provided little guidance on the appropriate registration of human sources and that registration and other details were recorded in an unsophisticated, paper-based system.67

Around this time, the National Crime Authority (NCA) started an investigation into Solicitor 1 and a real estate agent, Mr Peter Reid, known as Operation Adesine.68 Mr Pope recorded in an IR submitted on 26 May 1999 that Mr Kruger and Mr Lim had introduced Ms Gobbo to Member 1 (a pseudonym) at the NCA.69 Member 1 had informed Mr Pope that Ms Gobbo ‘told them the exact same information which is outlined in previous information reports for this job’.70 In a statement to the Commission, Member 1 said that, having not had access to all of the relevant diaries for that period, they could not recall having had any involvement in any investigation involving Ms Gobbo.71

In a conversation with the Commission, Ms Gobbo recalled that Mr Kruger believed that Mr Reid was using his financial position as a real estate agent to launder money, and that Solicitor 1 was somehow involved. She recalled that she told Solicitor 1 that Mr Kruger and Mr Strawhorn were pressuring her to provide information. She told the Commission that Solicitor 1 wrote to Mr Kruger telling him to stop asking her to speak about Solicitor 1 and the firm’s clients.72

In late May and early June 1999, Mr Pope and Mr Segrave met with other people in relation to the investigation.73 During this time, Mr Pope was in regular contact with Ms Gobbo. Mr Pope submitted IRs recording that they discussed personal matters, such as Mr Pope’s law studies, and Solicitor 1.74 Ms Gobbo gave him computer disks containing documents from Solicitor 1’s computer that she said were relevant to her allegations that he was laundering money.75 In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Paterson advised that Victoria Police has been unable to locate those disks. These disks have not otherwise been provided to the Commission, so it has been unable to ascertain their contents.76

Mr Pope’s IRs also indicated that he and Ms Gobbo discussed her ongoing contact with Mr Reid, and the progression of Mr Reid’s matter in court.77 Mr Pope could not recall whether she was representing Mr Reid at the time.78

During a telephone conversation on 23 June 1999, Ms Gobbo asked Mr Pope whether consent could be obtained to a variation of a restraining order on a property owned by one of her clients.79 Mr Pope told her that he would speak to the informant in the matter. During his evidence to the Commission, Mr Pope agreed that this would not be the ‘appropriate way’ of seeking consent to a variation, as Ms Gobbo should ordinarily have approached the informant.80 In approaching Mr Pope instead, Ms Gobbo was likely ‘testing the relationship’ between them.81

Between August and October 1999, Mr Pope continued to have contact with Ms Gobbo in relation to Operation Ramsden. He described the information she provided during that time as being of no value. In an IR, he recorded that she did not have any new information to provide and was mainly interested in how the investigation was progressing.82

Operation Ramsden did not result in any charges being laid against any individuals.83

Relationship with Detective Senior Constable Stephen Campbell

In around January 1999, Ms Gobbo met then Detective Senior Constable Stephen Campbell, who was a police officer stationed in St Kilda as part of the Embona Taskforce. They began a casual intimate relationship that continued for several years.84

Between 1999 and 2000, during their relationship, Ms Gobbo appeared as defence counsel for Mr John Genis. Mr Campbell was the informant in that matter.85 Mr Campbell told the Commission that he was not aware whether Ms Gobbo had told her client that he and Ms Gobbo were involved in a relationship.86 He considered that the onus was on Ms Gobbo to inform her client but agreed that if the relationship had not been disclosed, it could appear improper.87

In a conversation with the Commission, Ms Gobbo said that it was unlikely that she would have told her client about the relationship.88 She told the Commission she did not believe that she needed to disclose her involvement with an informant if there were no facts in dispute or it would not affect the outcome.89

Declassification as a human source

On 3 January 2000, Mr Segrave requested that Ms Gobbo’s status as a human source be reclassified as inactive.90 The document records the reason for doing so as:

Investigators have had no contact with [Ms Gobbo] since the 23rd September 1999. A final report will shortly be submitted in relation to ‘Operation Ramsden’. Accordingly, it is requested that [Ms Gobbo] be reclassified from ‘active’ to ‘inactive’.91

2000 to 2005: Gangland wars and further involvement with Victoria Police

An overview of Ms Gobbo’s continued involvement with Victoria Police during Melbourne’s ‘gangland wars’ is outlined in Figure 6.2 and discussed further below.

During this period, Victoria Police established the Dedicated Source Unit (DSU). In 2006, the DSU changed its name to the ‘Source Development Unit’ (SDU).92 In this chapter, the Commission refers to both as the ‘SDU’.

Figure 6.2: Timeline of Ms Gobbo’s further involvement with Victoria Police, 2000–05
2000

2000–02: Melbourne’s ‘gangland wars’ are taking place, driven by deep animosity between, on the one hand, Mr Carl Williams and Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel, and on the other, the Moran family. Events escalate with a series of murders including those of Mr Mark Moran, Mr Dino Dibra, Mr Victor Peirce and Mr Paul Kallipolitis

2001

September: Mr Terrence (Terry) Hodson is registered as a human source by Victoria Police after being arrested by Detective Senior Constable David Miechel of the Drug Squad. Mr Miechel becomes Mr Hodson’s handler.

2002

Early 2002: The Victoria Police Drug Squad is replaced by the Major Drug Investigation Division (MDID) after serious corruption is identified among its officers, including in relation to the management of human sources. Mr Miechel is transferred to the MDID.

2002–03: By early 2002, Ms Gobbo is representing Mr Mokbel. Ms Gobbo meets with then Detective Inspector Peter De Santo of the Ceja Taskforce to discuss corrupt police officers who had been involved in investigating Mr Mokbel.

2003

12 May: The Purana Taskforce is established to investigate the gangland murders.

21 June: Mr Jason Moran and Mr Pasquale Barbaro are murdered in a public place in front of children, leading to elevated community concerns about the gangland wars.

22 September: Then Detective Senior Sergeant Philip Swindells speaks to Ms Gobbo about threats she has received from Mr Andrew Veniamin, an associate of Mr Williams, for representing Mr Lewis Moran.

27 September: An attempted burglary occurs at a house in Dublin Street, Oakleigh, resulting in the arrest of Mr Hodson and Mr Miechel.

3 October: Mr Hodson tells then Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew (Murray) Gregor of the Ethical Standards Department that then Detective Sergeant Paul Dale of the MDID was also involved in the Dublin Street burglary. Mr Dale is Mr Miechel’s supervisor.

9 October: Ms Gobbo meets Mr Dale at a pub after he contacts her for legal advice. She meets with him again a few days later.

25 October: Mr Michael Marshall is murdered by Mr Andrews (a pseudonym) and Mr McGrath (a pseudonym) on the orders of Mr Williams.

November: Ms Gobbo begins representing Mr McGrath, who has been arrested for the murder of Mr Marshall. He is also suspected of involvement in the murders of Mr Moran and Mr Barbaro.

5 December: Mr Dale, Mr Miechel and Mr Hodson are arrested for the Dublin Street burglary. Mr Dale calls Ms Gobbo.

7 December: Ms Gobbo visits Mr Dale in prison. He gives her some handwritten notes to give to his solicitor. Ms Gobbo keeps a copy.

2004

January: After a pilot program, Victoria Police establishes a specialised unit to manage high-risk human sources, known then as the Dedicated Source Unit (DSU) and later known as the Source Development Unit (SDU).

15 or 16 May: Mr Terry Hodson and his wife, Mrs Christine Hodson, are murdered in their home.

18 June: Mr McGrath agrees to become a witness in relation to gangland murders. Ms Gobbo speaks to then Detective Sergeant Stuart Bateson about her safety concerns if it became known to Mr Williams and others that she was acting for Mr McGrath.

24 July: Ms Gobbo has a stroke.

August: The MDID is interested in Ms Gobbo as she is thought to have useful information regarding organised crime.

2005

15 August: Mr Bickley (a pseudonym) is arrested in relation to manufacturing drugs for Mr Mokbel. Ms Gobbo is contacted but cannot attend his police interview. Mr Mokbel later briefs her to act for Mr Bickley.

31 August: Ms Gobbo speaks to then Detective Senior Constable Paul Rowe and then Detective Sergeant Steve Mansell about her concerns that she is compromised in her representation of Mr Bickley, and in relation to providing information to police about organised crime.

Beginning of the gangland wars

The gangland wars involved violent disputes between rival gangs in Melbourne, including multiple murders of organised crime figures, which occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Two of the major rival gangs were individuals associated with the Moran family and with the Williams family.

Although there had been conflict between gangland identities throughout the 1990s, the wars appear to have escalated when Mr Carl Williams was shot in the stomach by Mr Jason and Mr Mark Moran due to a dispute about money in late 1999. Mr Williams survived and sought revenge against the Morans.

Approximately 17 people were murdered between 1998 and mid-2003.

Escalation of the gangland wars

Establishment of Purana Taskforce

Between 2000 and 2002, many criminal figures were murdered as the violence associated with the gangland wars continued.

It became clear that the murders and shootings were retributive or pre-emptive strikes involving various organised crime groups fighting for control and influence in Melbourne’s illicit drug trade.

On 12 May 2003, in response to public concern over the escalation of violence, Victoria Police set up the Purana Taskforce. Its goal was to dismantle the criminal syndicates responsible for these murders. Initially, it was tasked to investigate three unsolved homicides, those of Mr Dino Dibra, Mr Paul Kallipolitis and Mr Nikolai Radev. Its first target was Mr Andrew Veniamin, a hitman associated with Mr Williams’ crew.93

In a statement to the Commission, former Detective Senior Sergeant Gavan Ryan, an officer of the newly formed taskforce, described the environment as ‘pressure-packed’.94 He said police were under pressure from Government to halt the shootings and the flow of drugs through Melbourne. Mr Ryan gave evidence that the Purana Taskforce was receiving ‘constant’ intelligence about impending murders from a variety of sources.95

There are two key phases of the investigative activities of the Purana Taskforce that are of relevance to the Commission:

  • phase one, which focused on the gangland murders and Mr Williams’ criminal enterprise (May 2003–November 2005)
  • phase two, which focused on the criminal enterprise of Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel (November 2005 onwards).96

Ms Gobbo’s involvement spanned both phases.

On 21 June 2003, just weeks after the formation of the Purana Taskforce, Mr Jason Moran and his associate Mr Pasquale Barbaro were shot and killed while sitting in a van with a number of children after an Auskick football clinic. This was a significant event, as it was the first gangland murder that occurred in a public place, in front of children. Community concerns about the violence and fears for public safety increased, and as a result, the Purana Taskforce received significant additional resources.

On 25 October 2003, Mr Michael Marshall died after being shot five times outside his home in front of his young son in South Yarra. The individuals who carried out this murder were also involved in the murders of Mr Moran and Mr Barbaro.

Ms Gobbo’s connections with gangland identities

Ms Gobbo was developing a client base that included many members of various Melbourne organised crime groups. By 2002, she was acting for a range of clients who Victoria Police suspected were engaging in serious criminal conduct, including drug trafficking and murder.97 Those clients included Mr Williams, Mr Mokbel and many of their associates.98

In his evidence to the Commission, Commander Stuart Bateson, who was a Detective Sergeant in the Purana Taskforce at the time, said that he believed Ms Gobbo was a close associate of many of her clients. He added that Purana detectives considered that she was part of a ‘small cadre’ of criminal lawyers who ‘were willing to do anything to keep their clients out [of prison] and operating their criminal enterprises’.99

Ms Gobbo’s conflict in representing Person 12 (a pseudonym)

In 2003, Mr Campbell and others were charged with several offences.100 Mr Campbell said that, on the day he was charged, Ms Gobbo approached him and offered assistance. He continued to speak to her about his case as it progressed.101 During this time, Mr Campbell maintained his casual intimate relationship with Ms Gobbo, including when she represented Person 12 (a pseudonym), who had agreed to give evidence against Mr Campbell and his co-accused.102 Mr Campbell told the Commission that he was aware Ms Gobbo was representing Person 12 at that time.103

In his evidence to the Commission, Person 12 told the Commission that he only learned of Ms Gobbo’s personal relationship with Mr Campbell, and that she was providing advice to him about his charges, when Counsel Assisting the Commission told him during cross-examination. He said he was shocked that this occurred; that he would not have engaged Ms Gobbo to represent him had he known; and that he was concerned she may have divulged his instructions to Mr Campbell and his other co-accused.104

Corruption in the Drug Squad and Ms Gobbo’s interactions with the Major Drug Investigation Division

In 2001, an investigation known as Operation Hemi found longstanding corrupt practices in the Victoria Police Drug Squad. This led then Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon, APM to commission the Review of the Victoria Police Drug Squad (Purton Review) which was finalised later that year.105

The Purton Review identified concerns about the internal workings of the Drug Squad, including its management and structure. In early 2002, the Ceja Taskforce was established in the Victoria Police Ethical Standards Department (ESD) to investigate the Drug Squad’s corrupt activities.

The Drug Squad was later disbanded and replaced with the Major Drug Investigation Division (MDID). Although Ms Nixon’s intention was to staff the MDID with officers who were not part of the former Drug Squad so as to end corruption, some former Drug Squad officers were transferred to the newly established MDID due to industrial relations issues.106

Meetings with the Ethical Standards Department

In 2002 and 2003, Ms Gobbo spoke to investigators attached to the ESD. She spoke primarily to then Detective Inspector Peter De Santo, who was involved in the Ceja Taskforce.107

Mr De Santo told the Commission that, in around 2002, he had several interactions with Ms Gobbo when she was acting for Mr Mokbel. At the time, Mr De Santo was investigating police officers involved in targeting Mr Mokbel as part of the Taskforce Kayak. It was alleged that those police officers had engaged in corruption.108 Taskforce Kayak is explained in further detail below.

In his evidence to the Commission, Mr De Santo said that Ms Gobbo, who had become aware of the investigation, would seek information from him.

Mr De Santo perceived that she:

… saw that Kayak [Taskforce] had charged Mokbel and others, that there was corruption within Kayak; that if [he] proved that corruption by way of conviction she was able to leverage off those convictions in order to taint the evidence that they were going to give in the trials against Mokbel and others.109

First meetings with Mr Paul Dale

On 17 June 2002, Mr Paul Dale was promoted to Detective Sergeant in the MDID. He told the Commission that he first met Ms Gobbo in 2002 in a professional capacity.110 She made a bail application for an individual who had been charged with drug trafficking and Mr Dale was the informant in that matter.111

In 2003, Mr Dale found out that Ms Gobbo was speaking to Mr De Santo about corruption within the disbanded Drug Squad.112 In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Dale said he saw this as a delaying tactic to enable her clients, such as Mr Williams and Mr Mokbel, to get bail.113

Mr Dale added that as Ms Gobbo had represented many accused persons charged by the MDID, he encountered her regularly. He said that it was clear that she was a ‘go to’ lawyer for people charged with major drug trafficking offences.114

Mr Dale stated that they began to develop a more social relationship after they met at a Victoria Police function and that he began to recommend her to those whom the MDID had arrested.115 In a conversation with the Commission, Ms Gobbo denied that Mr Dale referred accused persons to her.116

Mr Dale and Ms Gobbo developed a personal relationship in 2003 or 2004 including, at least at one time, an intimate relationship.117

Registration and use of Mr Terry Hodson as a human source

The Drug Squad’s Taskforce Kayak commenced in mid-October 2000, targeting large-scale drug traffickers including Mr Mokbel and Mr Rabie (Rob) Karam. One of the taskforce’s many ongoing investigations focused on the Hodson family. Mr Terrence (Terry) Hodson was a career criminal well known to police. As earlier attempts to target him had been unsuccessful, investigators now concentrated on his children, Mr Andrew Hodson and Ms Mandy Leonard.

As part of that operation, the Hodson children were arrested for trafficking 1,500 ecstasy tablets. Mr Terry Hodson was also arrested by then Detective Senior Constable David Miechel, an officer in Mr Dale’s team.118

Following these arrests, Mr Miechel and Mr Strawhorn cultivated Mr Terry Hodson as a human source, using the charges against his children as leverage.119 A few weeks after Mr Terry Hodson’s arrest, Mr Miechel recruited and registered him as a human source.

Mr Terry Hodson was a prolific human source. He provided information on numerous high-profile targets, leading the MDID to many successful investigations and arrests in 2002 and 2003.120

Ms Gobbo had previously acted for Mr Terry Hodson’s son, Mr Andrew Hodson, in relation to a bail application in 2002.121

Then Detective Senior Constable Cameron Davey of the Homicide Squad conducted an interview with Ms Gobbo in July 2004. In the IR submitted later, he noted that Ms Gobbo said she was well aware of Mr Terry Hodson’s status as a human source. When representing someone else charged by Mr Miechel, Ms Gobbo said that she had obtained police notes, surveillance logs and possibly some IRs that suggested a human source was involved. By February 2002, she was aware that the human source was Mr Terry Hodson due to her association with Mr Mokbel. She also knew Mr Terry Hodson was the human source in relation to another of her clients.122

Ms Gobbo and the Dublin Street burglary

In June 2003, the MDID launched Operation Galop, targeting large-scale manufacturing and trafficking of ecstasy tablets. On 27 September 2003, a ‘drug house’ in Dublin Street, Oakleigh was burgled. Police arrested Mr Miechel and Mr Terry Hodson near the scene. Others arrested on drug charges in the fallout from the burglary included Mr Azzam Ahmed, Ms Abby Haynes and Ms Colleen O’Reilly.

The ESD attended the scene on the night of the arrests because Mr Miechel was a serving police officer.123 Mr Miechel and Mr Terry Hodson were both later released without being charged.124

Victoria Police set up Operation Nutation to investigate the burglary. Then Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew (Murray) Gregor of the ESD was the principal investigator and informant. Early in the investigation, the ESD identified that Mr Terry Hodson’s cooperation could be useful.125

On 29 September 2003, the ESD decided that Mr De Santo would approach Mr Terry Hodson via his son, Mr Andrew Hodson, and Ms Gobbo. Later that day, Ms Gobbo telephoned Mr De Santo and said that Mr Terry and Mr Andrew Hodson were to attend her chambers the next day, and that Mr Andrew Hodson had told her that his father was ‘very scared’ of police.126

On 3 October 2003, Mr Gregor met with Mr Terry and Mr Andrew Hodson. According to Mr Gregor, Mr De Santo arranged the meeting to ascertain whether Mr Terry Hodson would cooperate and provide a statement.127 Mr Gregor told the Commission that, during the meeting, Mr Terry Hodson said that a police sergeant had been involved in the burglary, and ‘intimated’ that this was Mr Dale.128 Mr Gregor also said that Mr Terry Hodson claimed Mr Dale and Mr Miechel had threatened him and his family.129

Mr De Santo told the Commission that on the following day, 4 October 2003, Mr Terry Hodson called him and said that contact had been made by the ‘three striper’, who told him that they should ‘stick together’ and that there was ‘no need to get into bed with anyone’. Mr Terry Hodson also told Mr De Santo that the ‘three striper’ was sleeping with the ‘blonde lady’.130 In his evidence to the Commission, Mr De Santo confirmed his view that the ‘three striper’ was Mr Dale and the ‘blonde lady’ was Ms Gobbo.131

Mr Gregor said that, on 6 October 2003, he, along with Mr De Santo, met with Mr Terry Hodson, who agreed to assist police and attend an interview.132

On 16 October 2003, Mr Terry Hodson called Mr Gregor and told him that he met with Ms Gobbo and that she was ‘feeling him out’ and trying to obtain information from him to pass on to Mr Dale.133

The following day, Mr Gregor spoke with Mr Terry Hodson on the phone and they discussed a further meeting between Mr Terry Hodson and Ms Gobbo that had occurred the previous day.134 Mr Terry Hodson said that Ms Gobbo had told him that she had seen Mr Dale recently and that Mr Dale was ‘sticking by’ Mr Miechel.135

On 25 October 2003, Mr Gregor met with Mr Terry Hodson and obtained a signed statement from him.136 He also gave him a covert recording device, which he was to use if he met with Mr Dale. Mr Gregor encouraged him to meet with Ms Gobbo to gather information against Mr Dale in relation to the burglary.

Mr Gregor said he encouraged Mr Terry Hodson to speak to Ms Gobbo because he knew that Ms Gobbo and Mr Dale were in contact. He said that it did not cross his mind that Ms Gobbo may have acted as Mr Dale’s lawyer, though he suspected that she might have given him informal or ‘off the record’ advice. According to Mr Gregor, Ms Gobbo had never held herself out as Mr Dale’s lawyer.137

On 6 November 2003, Mr Gregor again met with Mr Terry Hodson, together with then Detective Senior Sergeant Ian Snare.138 During this discussion, Mr Terry Hodson recounted an earlier meeting with Ms Gobbo. He told Mr Gregor that she said:

  • she met with Mr Dale on 30 October 2003 and he seemed physically ill and paranoid
  • she thought Mr Dale was involved in the Dublin Street burglary
  • Mr Miechel and Mr Dale could be doing things without her knowledge
  • Mr Dale had not asked her for legal advice
  • she had heard a rumour that Mr Miechel had made a statement to ESD
  • Mr Dale was paranoid that Mr Miechel was cooperating with ESD.139
Ms Gobbo as Mr Paul Dale’s legal adviser

In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Dale said of his relationship with Ms Gobbo that there was a ‘crossover of professional and personal’. He explained:

… a number of those occasions where we met either as a result of either I contacting her or however it happened, those went from speaking at a café, bar, whatever, over lunch, dinner, whatever happens to be to too many drinks and a lot of things were said and she certainly told me a lot of things that you wouldn’t expect her to tell about her clients.140

He said that Ms Gobbo was at times his legal adviser and they had conversations that he considered were legally privileged.141

On 5 December 2003, Mr Dale, Mr Miechel and Mr Terry Hodson were arrested in relation to the Dublin Street burglary. Mr Dale’s charge was based on information provided by Mr Terry Hodson. Mr Dale contacted Ms Gobbo because he viewed her as his best chance of obtaining bail.142

In evidence to the Commission, Mr Dale said that he could not recall the details of their conversation but that he sought her out previously for legal advice in preparation for being arrested, and that because she was aware of his legal situation and circumstances, she was his ‘go to’ lawyer.143

He understood that Ms Gobbo could not represent him because she was acting for others who had been charged in relation to the burglary.144 In a statement to the Commission, Mr Dale said that he discussed the conflict with Ms Gobbo, ‘who maintained that she could still assist me in a semi-formal manner and we agreed I would run most things by her when I needed her expert legal advice in regards to drug trafficking charges that I was facing’.145 He said he was in regular contact with her to seek legal advice and it was his belief these conversations were all confidential.146

Mr Dale said that in the lead up to his bail application, he believed that Ms Gobbo would assist his solicitor, Mr Tony Hargreaves, with the application.147 Mr Dale also told the Commission that Ms Gobbo and Mr Hargreaves had advised him not to make a bail application at that time, so he did not pursue it.148

In relation to the arrest of Mr Dale, Ms Gobbo noted in her court book that Mr Gregor arrested Mr Dale, and that ‘either Miechel or Hodson has rolled’.149 She also noted that she had read a statement made in relation to the matter, and the contents of it was too detailed to be made up.150

On 7 December 2003, Ms Gobbo visited Mr Dale in prison.151 According to Mr Dale, he gave her some handwritten notes about matters relevant to his bail application and instructed her to hand those notes to Mr Hargreaves.152

Mr Dale said that he was advised he could only be represented by Mr Hargreaves and a specific counsel, who was not Ms Gobbo, if he wanted to receive funding from The Police Association for the matter.153 Despite discussions about engaging alternative counsel, Mr Dale told the Commission that he had still considered that Ms Gobbo was acting for him because they continued to meet and discuss his legal matters:

I still believed she was acting for me, because I kept continually meeting with her and discussing criminal matters, my issues, my matters. When I say she’s acting for me, you’re right, she couldn’t act at court for me, I guess, but I was still seeking her out for advice.154

Ms Gobbo’s diary records that, on 14 December 2003, she visited Mr Dale in prison in a professional capacity.155 She made notes that indicate they discussed Mr Dale’s case, and that as a result Ms Gobbo was to speak to various people.156

On 15 December 2003, Mr Dale was released on bail.

The Hodsons murders

On 15 or 16 May 2004, Mr Terry Hodson and his wife, Mrs Christine Hodson, were murdered in their home in Kew. Mr Terry Hodson’s plea in relation to the Dublin Street burglary was scheduled to be heard at the Supreme Court of Victoria on 19 August 2004.157 He had orally agreed to give evidence against Mr Dale and Mr Miechel and had been advised by police that this assistance would substantially reduce his sentence.158

The committal hearing for Mr Dale and Mr Miechel was scheduled for 4 October 2004.

Mr Charlie Bezzina, then Senior Sergeant in the Homicide Squad, attended the scene and was in charge of the investigation.

Mr De Santo also attended the scene.159 Mr De Santo told the Commission that Ms Gobbo contacted him; that she told him Mr Andrew Hodson believed his parents had been murdered; and that she wanted to give Mr De Santo’s telephone number to Mr Jim Valos, Mr Andrew Hodson’s solicitor. Mr De Santo agreed to her providing his telephone number directly to Mr Andrew Hodson.160

Mr De Santo said that Mr Andrew Hodson then called him and told him that he was at his parents’ house, that they had been murdered and that he believed that Mr Dale was involved. He said that it was he who had called the police. He wanted Mr De Santo to come to the house.161

On 1 July 2004, Ms Gobbo attended a meeting with Mr Bezzina and Mr Davey at the Homicide Squad offices at St Kilda Road Police Station, to discuss the Hodson murders. She was interviewed as a potential witness, but the interview was video recorded, something usually reserved for suspects. Although they discussed a range of matters, the resulting IR showed that she did not supply any information of value to the investigation.162

Ms Gobbo told Mr Bezzina and Mr Davey that she was aware an IR identifying Mr Terry Hodson as a human source was circulating within the criminal community for several months prior to his murder.163

Mr Bezzina demonstrated a willingness to receive further information from Ms Gobbo in the following exchange from that interview:

MR BEZZINA: Well, that’s about where we’re at and down the track if—and I don’t want you to put yourself in any position where you shouldn’t be but because of the people that you come in contact with…

MS GOBBO: Yeah.

MR BEZZINA: …and things you’re obviously going to hear and, as I said, putting ESD aside and everybody else, if you come across information you think we should be aware of to try and solve it, that’s all I’m—you know, if you can give us a call.

MS GOBBO: As long as I’m not video-taped, Charlie.

MR BEZZINA: Yeah, no. No, well, you’re right. So all I want is a phone call to say well, if we need a push in the right direction, that’s what I ask and the end of the day there’s someone out there who’s callous enough to commit the murder in the way it was committed. And if they had an issue with Terry that’s all one thing but then to take out Christine.164

In a statement to the Commission, Mr Bezzina recalled that Ms Gobbo could have been identified as a potential witness to the Hodson murders due to her association with Mr Mokbel, as Victoria Police had identified evidence linking Mr Mokbel to the murders.165 Mr Bezzina told the Commission that at the time of the interview, he was unaware of Ms Gobbo’s personal relationship with Mr Dale.166

Contact with Purana Taskforce

‘Our door is always open’: Victoria Police

As Ms Gobbo’s legal career continued, she became more entrenched in her role as a legal adviser to organised crime figures. In 2003, she received threats from a close associate of Mr Williams following her representation of members of the Moran family, perceived by Mr Williams and Mr Mokbel as rivals.167

On 21 July 2003, Ms Gobbo represented Mr Lewis Moran in a successful application for bail.168 In the days following that hearing, she was threatened by Mr Veniamin.169 Ms Gobbo said Mr Veniamin went to her apartment building and confronted her about this perceived disloyalty, including calling her a ‘dog’.170

On 22 September 2003, Ms Gobbo again appeared for Mr Moran in relation to a variation of bail.171 Afterwards, on the steps of the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, Ms Gobbo said she was approached by Mr Philip Swindells, at that time a Detective Senior Sergeant in the Purana Taskforce.172 Ms Gobbo stated that Mr Swindells told her the police were aware of Mr Veniamin’s threats and that she should contact police if she wanted to discuss the situation.173

In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Swindells said that Ms Gobbo declined to make a formal report due to her fear of reprisal. She told him she had made a statutory declaration detailing the threats and placed it in a safe, so that if she were killed, Victoria Police would know who was responsible.174

Between 2003 and 2004, Ms Gobbo had numerous discussions with Mr Bateson of the Purana Taskforce, about assisting Victoria Police and about her safety concerns.175 Mr Bateson told the Commission that, after a hearing in 2004 concerning her client, Mr McGrath, Ms Gobbo told him that she was concerned for her welfare if it were to become known that she was representing this client. In a statement to the Commission, Mr Bateson said he told Ms Gobbo ‘our door was always open if she needed assistance’.176

The crack in the dam wall of silence: contact with Purana Taskforce

Victoria Police knew of Ms Gobbo’s knowledge of and connection to Melbourne’s organised crime networks. Ms Gobbo told the Commission that she had come to know ‘who’s who in the zoo … and [had] a great deal of knowledge about the intricacies of the drug trade in Melbourne’.177 It became apparent to her over time that officers were aware that she possessed this in-depth knowledge of gangland identities.178

By 2003, many murders that had occurred in the context of the gangland wars remained unsolved.

The Purana Taskforce attempted to dismantle the criminal networks by gathering intelligence and targeting their weakest and most susceptible members. It considered that this method would mean that those arrested and charged would be more likely to cooperate with police and provide evidence against their co-accused, or against those higher up in the criminal network.179 In evidence to the Commission, Mr Swindells said that the Purana Taskforce was keen to encourage these criminals to cooperate with police.180

From 2003, Ms Gobbo was representing Mr McGrath, who had been charged in relation to the murders of Mr Jason Moran, Mr Barbaro, and Mr Marshall.

Purana Taskforce investigators met with Mr McGrath while he was in prison, as he had shown a willingness to assist police. They hoped to obtain information from him about a series of murders. In turn, Mr McGrath wanted to negotiate a plea deal in relation to his charges. In colloquial police terminology, they hoped he would 'roll'.

Mr McGrath complied and provided a number of statements against other criminal identities, becoming the first of a number of significant ‘roll over’ witnesses for the Purana Taskforce.181 Ms Gobbo later asserted that he was the ‘crack in the [dam] wall of silence that led to a flood’.182

In June 2004, Mr Bateson attended prison several times to meet with and take statements from Mr McGrath. The following month, Mr Bateson and Mr Mark Hatt, then a Detective Senior Constable in the Purana Taskforce, attended prison to give Mr McGrath draft versions of those statements. Mr McGrath said that he was largely happy with their contents but asked that Ms Gobbo review and ‘sign off’ on them.183 Mr Bateson arranged this with Ms Gobbo.184

On 10 July 2004, Mr Hatt attended Ms Gobbo’s chambers with the statements. She reviewed them and made some comments, including that she was sceptical of her client’s assertions about the murder of Mr Marshall.185

The next day, Ms Gobbo visited Mr McGrath in prison.186 The following day, Mr Bateson and Mr Hatt visited him to revise his statements.187 Mr McGrath altered his statement as to whether he believed he and his co-accused were going to Mr Marshall’s home to collect a debt rather than to kill him and whether Mr McGrath was to be paid.188

Due to her representation of Mr McGrath at this time, Ms Gobbo was in regular contact with key Purana Taskforce investigators.189 This contact continued into 2005 in relation to a range of matters not limited to Mr McGrath, prior to her formal registration as a human source.

Ms Gobbo’s health issues

On 24 July 2004, Ms Gobbo was hospitalised after suffering a stroke.190 This caused left-sided paralysis and temporary loss of speech. She had been taken to hospital by her client and close friend, Mr Ahmed, who was an associate of Mr Mokbel.191 She said that, while she was in hospital, the Mokbel family and many of their associates visited her.192

She later underwent heart surgery, after a hole in her heart was identified.193 In the ensuing years, she claimed to experience chronic pain, likely a result of her stroke.194

Ongoing contact with Mr Stuart Bateson

On 1 March 2005, the committal proceedings of Mr Williams, Mr Andrews (a pseudonym) and Mr Thomas (a pseudonym) for the murders of Mr Jason Moran, Mr Barbaro and Mr Marshall took place. Mr McGrath was a key witness. Victoria Police argued a public interest immunity (PII) claim before the Chief Magistrate to prevent the disclosure of their notes identifying that Ms Gobbo was acting for Mr McGrath.195 Mr Bateson had made the redactions to the notes after Ms Gobbo had expressed concern for her safety, fearing that Mr Williams and others might find out that she had acted for and not stopped Mr McGrath from assisting police.196 The Chief Magistrate allowed the PII claim.197

On 23 March 2005, Ms Gobbo phoned Mr Bateson to thank him for ensuring that her name was not mentioned during the committal proceeding.198 She raised concerns about various lawyers who acted for individuals involved in the gangland wars. Mr Bateson was interested in gathering intelligence about these lawyers, as the Purana Taskforce thought that they were part of criminal enterprises and were facilitating criminal activity.199

Mr Bateson and Ms Gobbo later had several phone conversations and meetings.200 Many related to Operation Pedal, an investigation into money laundering allegations about Solicitor 2 (a pseudonym). In a discussion on 21 July 2005, Ms Gobbo suggested that Solicitor 2 should be questioned about the source of client funds.201

During these conversations, they also discussed her clients, including Mr Mokbel and Mr George Williams.202

Ms Gobbo continued to press for Victoria Police to conceal her role in providing legal advice to Mr McGrath. On 22 May 2005, she called Mr Bateson to say she was worried about her safety if Mr Hatt was cross-examined about taking Mr McGrath’s statement in the Mark Moran murder as this could reveal that she had represented Mr McGrath.203 Ms Gobbo expressed similar concerns for her safety in a telephone call to Mr Bateson on 1 September 2005. She was concerned that Solicitor 2, who was representing Mr Carl Williams in relation to the murder of Mr Moran, would receive unedited notes revealing Ms Gobbo’s representation of Mr McGrath through the disclosure process. Mr Bateson assured her that Victoria Police would resist this.204

Ms Gobbo also appeared to be motivated in speaking to Mr Bateson by her personal dislike and jealousy of Solicitor 2, who had effectively usurped Ms Gobbo in providing legal advice to Mr Mokbel.205

Further contact with the Major Drug Investigation Division

Knowledge and interest in Ms Gobbo

By mid-2004, the MDID was receiving information that Ms Gobbo’s involvement with her clients went beyond a professional relationship and that she may be willing to share information with Victoria Police about these clients.206

During a meeting on 10 August 2004, attended by then Detective Senior Sergeant James (Jim) O’Brien, Detective Sergeant Steve Mansell, then Detective Senior Constable Paul Rowe, Officer Sandy White (a pseudonym) and other MDID officers, the possibility of applying to intercept Ms Gobbo’s telephone was discussed.207

It is clear that around this time, Mr White, who later went on to register Ms Gobbo as a human source, considered that Ms Gobbo may have information about organised crime due to her high-profile association with major criminals that could be of assistance to police.208 After Ms Gobbo’s stroke a month earlier, he thought that she might be ‘vulnerable to an approach’.209

On 26 August 2004, the MDID produced a profile of Ms Gobbo, which referred to her criminal history and her association with criminal figures.210

Arrest of Mr Bickley (a pseudonym)

On 15 August 2005, Mr Bickley was arrested in relation to serious drug offending arising from ‘Operation Quills’, an investigation into an aspect of the Mokbel drug operation that the MDID had been running since 2004.211 Mr Mokbel asked Ms Gobbo to act for Mr Bickley.212

On 31 August 2005, Ms Gobbo called Mr Rowe about Mr Bickley’s bail application, which was listed for hearing that day.213 Ms Gobbo said that she did not want to represent Mr Bickley, but she felt compelled to do so as Mr Mokbel was pressuring her. She also told Mr Rowe it was not in Mr Bickley's best interests for her to represent him and that she had a conflict of interest as it appeared that Mr Bickley could provide evidence about Mr Mokbel’s involvement in criminal activities.214 It appeared obvious to Mr Rowe that Mr Mokbel was paying Mr Bickley’s legal fees and pressuring her to look after Mr Mokbel’s rather than Mr Bickley’s interests.215

Mr Rowe suggested that he and Mr Mansell would meet Ms Gobbo at court to discuss the matter in person.216 Mr Rowe told the Commission that police had long suspected Mr Mokbel was controlling his associates’ legal representation and that Ms Gobbo may herself have been involved in some level of criminality.217

At 9.30am on the same day, Mr Mansell and Mr Rowe spoke to Ms Gobbo at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.218 Mr Rowe said that she was open and candid in the details she provided during this conversation.219

Mr Rowe’s evidence to the Commission was that:

  • Ms Gobbo discussed her association with Mr Mokbel at length, including that he used her to gather information to benefit him and his associates.220
  • She was forced to represent Mr Mokbel’s associates in a way that suited Mr Mokbel’s interests, rather than those of her other clients.221
  • She was concerned that her continued representation of Mr Mokbel was affecting her reputation within the criminal justice system and that she may be committing criminal offences in assisting him.222
  • This arrangement with Mr Mokbel was putting her under a lot of pressure and causing her stress, which she was concerned was affecting her health.223
  • Towards the end of their conversation, Mr Mansell said to her something like ‘you should get on board’, and she responded to the effect, ‘if anyone finds out I’d end up dead’.224

In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Rowe said:

She was 100 per cent looking for a way out of that environment where she felt compelled to do these things on behalf of people that, let’s face it, were involved in serious organised crime for many, many years, homicides, large-scale drug trafficking and—don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she doesn’t have a level of responsibility for her own behaviour, but she was under enormous pressure and looking for a way out, a hand of friendship.225

He also agreed that Ms Gobbo’s deciding to ‘get on board’ was ‘a way out’ that Victoria Police could offer her but ‘ultimately that decision was up to her’.226

Later that afternoon, Mr Rowe and Mr Mansell had a further conversation with Ms Gobbo.227 Mr Rowe, in a statement to the Commission regarding that conversation, said that:

  • Ms Gobbo seemed to be ‘venting to get a lot of information off her chest’, particularly in relation to Mr Mokbel.
  • She said that she felt conflicted in relation to Mr Bickley, as Mr Mokbel expected her to ensure he did not cooperate with police, which she thought was against his interests.
  • She said that she viewed aligning herself with the police as a way out of her arrangement with Mr Mokbel.
  • They discussed the process of cooperating with police, to which Ms Gobbo said something to the effect that ‘she would be killed’ if people found out and she wanted assurances that she would be looked after if she did give information to police.
  • He and Mr Mansell told her that, if she did cooperate, she would be managed by other officers who were ‘specialists’.
  • By the end of the conversation, he felt that Ms Gobbo had already made up her mind to cooperate with police. He said that neither he nor Mr Mansell pressured her to do so.228

Mr Rowe and Mr Mansell reported this conversation to Mr O’Brien.229 Mr O’Brien told the Commission that, on this conversation being reported to him, he either advised Mr Mansell and Mr Rowe to contact the SDU, or he spoke directly to someone from the SDU.230

As described below, the SDU was a newly established unit that specialised in managing high-risk human sources. Mr O’Brien said that he referred Ms Gobbo to the SDU as, when Ms Gobbo indicated a willingness to assist police, it was proper procedure for her to be sent to that unit as the MDID no longer played any role in assessing, registering or handling human sources.231

2005 to 2009: Human source and witness

An overview of Ms Gobbo’s interaction with Victoria Police, including as a registered human source in 2005–09, is outlined in Figure 6.3 and discussed further below.

Figure 6.3: Timeline of Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source, 2005–09
2005

16 September: Ms Gobbo meets with the Source Development Unit (SDU) for the first time. The unit registers her as a human source (for a third time, unbeknown to them) with the number ‘21803838’, commonly shortened to ‘3838’. A series of assessment meetings are conducted between September to November.

15 November: An application for formal approval of Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source is submitted. As part of the process, the SDU completes a risk assessment and notes that the overall risk of registering her as a human source is ‘high’ but concludes the value of the information she could supply outweighs the risks.

2006

22 April: Mr Cooper (a pseudonym), a client of Ms Gobbo, is arrested based on detailed information she provided to the SDU. Despite being told by her handlers not to attend, Ms Gobbo insists on attending his police interview on the night of his arrest. She provides legal advice and encourages him to cooperate with police. As a result, Mr Antonios (Tony) Mokbel and many of his associates are ultimately convicted of serious criminal offences.

26 April: The SDU completes a second risk assessment that identifies new risks to Ms Gobbo’s safety, including that she had informed on a number of people who could pose a risk to her, and that she had assisted a number of ‘high level criminals’ in cooperating with police.

27 April: Then Superintendent Anthony (Tony) Biggin conducts an audit of Ms Gobbo’s SDU file. He identifies no issues of concern.

17 May: Then Assistant Commissioner Simon Overland, APM and SDU officers meet to discuss winding down Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source. They agree there is a need for an 'exit strategy'.

2007

March: The Briars Taskforce is established to investigate the murder of Mr Shane Chartres-Abbott. The Petra Taskforce is established to investigate the murders of Mr Terrence (Terry) Hodson and Mrs Christine Hodson. Ms Gobbo is asked to assist with both investigations.

5 June: Ms Gobbo provides the SDU with a bill of lading and other documents that had been given to her by a client, Mr Rabie (Rob) Karam. This may have led to the seizure of a large quantity of ecstasy by law enforcement authorities, and the prosecution of several individuals, commonly known as the 'Tomato Tins' prosecution.

22 June: Ms Gobbo passes on information from Mr Domenic (Mick) Gatto to the SDU regarding his associate, Mr Faruk Orman, who had just been arrested for the murder of Mr Victor Peirce.

19 July: Ms Gobbo attends an Office of Police Integrity (OPI) examination by the Honourable Gerald Edward (Tony) Fitzgerald, AC, QC regarding the leaking of information reports (IRs) that revealed Mr Terry Hodson was a human source.

17 August: Ms Gobbo attends a further examination at the OPI, where Mr Fitzgerald suggests she told ‘untruths’ at the previous hearing. She is encouraged to seek legal advice before giving further evidence. Ms Gobbo never returns to give evidence.

2008

14 January: Briars Taskforce investigators, then Detective Inspector Stephen (Steve) Waddell and then Detective Senior Sergeant Ronald (Ron) Iddles, OAM, APM interview Ms Gobbo about Mr Chartres-Abbott’s murder.

6 February: Due to mounting concerns about the number of police officers who have become aware of the identity of ‘3838’, Ms Gobbo’s human source registration number is changed to ‘11792958’ commonly shortened to ‘2958’.

26 February–5 March: Ms Gobbo is interviewed a number of times by Petra Taskforce investigators then Detective Senior Sergeant Solon (Sol) Solomon and then Detective Senior Constable Cameron Davey about the murder of the Hodsons.

16 April: Ms Gobbo’s car is set on fire. The suspect is one of her clients.

17 November: Ms Gobbo is interviewed for the fourth time by Petra Taskforce investigators after they receive information that she is in possession of false phones linked to then Detective Sergeant Paul Dale around the time of the Hodson murders.

30 November: Mr Dale calls Ms Gobbo and asks to meet. She informs the SDU and Petra Taskforce investigators.

7 December: Ms Gobbo meets Mr Dale and covertly records the meeting.

11 December: After listening to the recording, Petra investigators tell Ms Gobbo that Mr Dale cannot be charged or convicted without her evidence. She is asked to become a witness against him.

30 December: The SDU completes a ‘SWOT’ analysis assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of Ms Gobbo becoming a witness for Petra Taskforce against Mr Dale.

2009

7 January: Ms Gobbo signs her witness statement in relation to Mr Dale.

13 January: Ms Gobbo is deregistered as a human source.

13 February: Mr Dale and Mr Rodney Collins are charged with the Hodson murders.

25–27 May: Mr Waddell and Mr Iddles travel to Bali to take a statement from Ms Gobbo regarding the Chartres-Abbott murder. That statement is never signed as Mr Waddell and Mr Iddles become concerned about the implications of Ms Gobbo giving evidence.

The Source Development Unit

Human source management reform and the establishment of a dedicated source unit

As indicated above, serious corruption within the Drug Squad was identified in late 2000.232 A review of the Drug Squad, the Purton Review, recommended reform of human source management processes.

As part of these reforms, on 27 July 2003, Victoria Police initiated a project, Review and Develop Best Practice Human Source Management Policy. A recommendation of that project led to a trial of a new unit, known initially as the DSU and later the SDU. After the pilot program was completed, the SDU was established on a permanent basis.233

Part of the SDU's purpose was to identify, recruit and register high-risk human sources.234 It was envisaged that members of this unit, known as handlers and controllers, would recruit these sources and obtain information from them.235 For the first time, investigators would be separated from contact with and the management of human sources, a concept known as the ‘sterile corridor’, largely to better protect the human source.236

Other reforms involved establishing ‘clearly defined procedures’ to better manage interactions with police officers and human sources.237 Reports prepared by the SDU included:

  • An Informer Contact Report (ICR) that was prepared after a handler communicated (either by phone, email or in person) with a human source.
  • An IR that was prepared from records of physical meetings and the ICR, extracting usable intelligence that was then assessed and disseminated to investigators.238 These reports were ‘sanitised’ so that the provenance of the information, including the identity of the human source, was completely removed from the documents.239

A Source Management Log (SML), also known as a ‘Controller’s Log’, was kept by the controller and summarised a human source’s activities, as well as the supervision and management protocols in relation to that source.240

First meeting with the handlers

On 8 September 2005, Mr Rowe attended a meeting with then Detective Acting Superintendent Robert Hill, Mr White, Mr Mansell and other SDU officers.241 Mr Rowe’s diary records that the outcome of the meeting was that the SDU was to meet with Ms Gobbo and assess her suitability as a human source.242

On 16 September 2005, Mr Rowe and Mr Mansell collected Ms Gobbo and took her to a private meeting room where she met with officers from the SDU for the first time. Officer Peter Smith (a pseudonym) wrote an ICR that summarised the meeting.243 The matters they discussed in this meeting are outlined below. This meeting was also recorded, despite Mr White assuring Ms Gobbo that it would not be.244

Ms Gobbo raised concerns that, if revealed as a human source, she would be ‘judged as a lawyer, not just as a person assisting police’.245 She said her motivation for becoming a human source was that she ‘had had enough of [the] stressful lifestyle dealing with [those] people’ and she did not ‘know a way out’, including how to get out of her arrangement with the Mokbels.246

Ms Gobbo referred to her 2004 stroke, describing it as a ‘very big scare’. She added that she had initially changed her lifestyle but had since ‘slipped’ into a worse one and now wanted to stop. She believed if the Mokbels were arrested and jailed, she could escape their clutches.247

When discussing Ms Gobbo’s clients and associates, Mr White made no secret of the SDU’s eagerness to obtain intelligence regarding the Mokbels. He began with, ‘Tell us everything you know about Tony Mokbel’.248 She replied, ‘How many weeks have you got?’.249

During this meeting, Ms Gobbo discussed Mr Mokbel and his associates, including Mr Bickley and Mr Cooper (a pseudonym) at length.250

She referred to ‘a client’ who ultimately became an important prosecution witness and said that she checked this person’s statement and edited it before the witness signed it. Ms Gobbo said she would be in serious trouble if people like the Mokbels found out.251 She also said that the stress of this contributed to her stroke.252

Her handler commented in the ICR that his ‘initial impression is that, at the very least, this [human source] can definitely be of high value in relation to current intelligence on Mokbel family and associates’.253

In her evidence to the Commission, Ms Gobbo said she formed the belief that, if she did not cooperate with police, she would be charged with something.254 She added that she felt as though she ‘couldn’t walk away or would have difficulty walking away’, and that if she did walk away, she was scared of what might happen if she did not meet their expectations.255

Four face-to-face assessment meetings took place between Ms Gobbo and the SDU between September and November 2005, when she was registered as a human source with the number ‘21803838’, commonly shortened to ‘3838’.256

Risk assessment

On 15 November 2005, her handler drafted a risk assessment of Ms Gobbo. At that time, Victoria Police policy for registering a human source required such an assessment.257 The risk to her was rated as ‘high’ with a number of specified risks identified, including that she:

  • was a criminal defence barrister, and well known in the legal fraternity
  • was acting for several members of the Mokbel criminal syndicate
  • had previously spoken to other police officers, including the MDID and the Purana Taskforce.258

The risk to Victoria Police was also considered ‘high’, in particular because of her ‘occupation and particular position’. The assessment noted, ‘If compromised, the handling of this Source would come under extreme scrutiny’, which could ultimately ‘cause embarrassment and criticism of the Force’.259

The following description in that risk assessment was assessed as a ‘moderate’ risk:

Within a short time, the Source has provided credible and valuable intelligence to police. The Source is well positioned to obtain tactically viable intelligence in relation to the criminal activities of the MOKBEL cartel. Intelligence supplied by the Source is considered accurate, however, on occasion the information may be obtained via third parties who may not be directly involved in the matters reported on. This may cause concern regarding the accuracy of information supplied.260

The risk to public harm was also thought ‘moderate’:

The Source displays to Handlers a high degree of a feeling of moral duty to uphold the law. Whereas this position must be constantly [scrutinised], it appears unlikely that the Source would be openly involved in activities that would have a negative impact on her position, and thus the general community.261

On 23 November 2005, Mr Black (a pseudonym), who was acting as Ms Gobbo’s controller at the time, completed the risk assessment with the overall risk assessed as ‘high’.262 He noted, however, that her effective use had the ‘potential to impede major crime and reduce the illicit drug trade and that failure to use Ms Gobbo would have the opposite effect’.263 He recommended that the SDU manage Ms Gobbo as a human source.

Victoria Police’s approach to managing Ms Gobbo

During the SDU’s early management of Ms Gobbo as a human source, she had one dedicated source handler.264 Over time, it became apparent that she was a ‘labour intensive’ human source; it was an ‘immensely challenging undertaking’ to manage her; and too much work for one handler to manage alone.265

Consequently, Mr White determined that a number of handlers would have responsibility for Ms Gobbo on a rotating basis.266 In all, Ms Gobbo had six handlers.267 This was primarily due to the number of contacts between the handlers and Ms Gobbo.268 She interacted with them almost daily, often phoning them many times a day.269 On occasions she contacted them more than 15 times in one day.270 These calls were not just during regular working hours but often late at night and on public holidays and weekends.271 The handlers also met with Ms Gobbo face-to-face, often for meetings lasting more than five hours.272

The topics covered during these conversations were wide-ranging. As well as discussing the activities of her clients and other associates, Ms Gobbo regularly discussed her health and general wellbeing, including her mental health, the stress and pressure she was under, and her various physical ailments.

Ms Gobbo did not like her handlers to rotate. She described it as ‘frustrating … to change from one person to someone else and to be repeating myself’.273

Information provided by Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police records

During her meetings and calls with handlers, Ms Gobbo provided a significant amount of information, which her handlers recorded. Between 16 September 2005 and 13 January 2009, 172 ICRs were generated by the SDU. The information she provided to Victoria Police also resulted in the compilation of 517 IRs, which were disseminated to various parts of Victoria Police, including the Purana Taskforce, the ESD and the MDID. Additionally, information was disseminated verbally to investigators such as Mr O’Brien, with some of those conversations recorded in diaries. The Commission has been unable to ascertain the precise number of these verbal disseminations.

Due to the large volume of information Ms Gobbo provided, the handlers fell behind in their record keeping, including ICRs and official diaries.274 Often, they wrote notes and summaries of meetings months after they occurred.275 Ms Gobbo disputed the accuracy of some ICRs and diaries when shown them by the Commission.276

The evidence before the Commission suggests that she provided her handlers with information relating to approximately 520 people mentioned in the SDU documents produced during this period.277

The intelligence Ms Gobbo provided to Victoria Police related to both her social relationships and her client relationships, and the line between these relationships was blurred. In his evidence to the Commission, Mr White said that Ms Gobbo was valuable as a human source as she had a huge social network of individuals involved in organised crime about whom she could provide intelligence.278

The SDU was not aware of all of Ms Gobbo’s clients, although she would on occasion tell them for whom she was acting.279 In his evidence to the Commission, Mr White said that it became apparent as time progressed that Ms Gobbo was providing information about her clients and SDU officers told her on ‘numerous occasions’ that they did not want any information that could be privileged.280 He considered any conflict of interest issues to be Ms Gobbo’s own responsibility to manage.281 He conceded that it would have been beneficial to have kept a list of those for whom she was acting.282

Ms Gobbo’s handlers tasked her to further her social relationships with clients in order to gather more intelligence about their activities.283 She also took it upon herself to develop these relationships and offered ways to elicit information for Victoria Police. For example, Ms Gobbo offered to handle the RSVP list for the party of Mr Cooper, who was a well-known associate of the Mokbels, and to take photos at the event in order to collect contact details and images of people of interest to police.284

Over the period that Ms Gobbo was registered as a human source with the SDU, she was acting for, and providing information about, individuals under investigation by several Victoria Police taskforces, including Purana, Petra and Briars.

Ms Gobbo’s handlers routinely asked her to provide information about her clients’ car registrations, phone numbers, addresses, nicknames and financial affairs. She was regularly tasked by handlers to ascertain the movements of her clients, including Mr Mokbel and Mr Karam.285

She also provided significant information that related to operations targeting Mr Mokbel’s criminal enterprise from his associates, such as Mr Thomas, Mr Cooper and Mr Karam. During one of her early meetings with the SDU on 22 September 2005, she told them that Mr Thomas and Mr Cooper would both have sufficient information about Mr Mokbel to put him away for a long time.286

Ms Gobbo’s informing on her clients

By 2006, Ms Gobbo had provided significant information to Victoria Police about individuals involved in criminal activity, which resulted in several arrests.

During conversations with her handlers, Ms Gobbo provided wide-ranging information about:

  • the criminal activities of her clients
  • how Victoria Police could encourage her clients to roll and cooperate with police
  • defence tactics she proposed using in relation to her clients
  • the relative strengths of her clients’ cases
  • the mobile phone numbers and vehicles of targets, including those of her clients
  • addresses that targets, including clients, were known to frequent
  • code names
  • code words used in communication.287

The specifics of Ms Gobbo’s informing are detailed in Chapter 7. The following summaries of notable case studies are set out below to illustrate Ms Gobbo’s most significant period of informing on clients.

Mr Cooper (a pseudonym)

Mr Cooper was a client of Ms Gobbo between 2002 and 2007. He was a key target of Victoria Police due to his close business association with Mr Mokbel.

After Ms Gobbo’s early indications that she could provide information about Mr Cooper and his activities, the SDU tasked her to do so. Ms Gobbo said that, with the SDU’s encouragement, she spent more time with Mr Cooper and they developed a social relationship.288 She frequently met him for dinner.289 He said that he believed that she was his ‘best friend’.290 Ms Gobbo said that over time they began discussing his criminal activities.291

Around Christmas 2005, Ms Gobbo told the SDU that she thought Mr Cooper was manufacturing amphetamine or was about to start production.292 In early 2006, Ms Gobbo provided her handlers with information regarding his activities sourcing precursor chemicals and manufacturing amphetamine.293 On 16 March 2006, Ms Gobbo gave her handler the approximate location of his laboratory.294

In early 2006, as Victoria Police investigated Mr Cooper, Ms Gobbo provided the SDU with advice about how police could encourage him to roll on others in the Mokbel criminal enterprise.295 She discussed targeting him financially and using his fear of the Mokbels as leverage.296 She also advised on how to achieve his cooperation, on which officers he preferred, and that she believed he would listen to her advice once arrested.297

Prior to Mr Cooper’s arrest, Ms Gobbo told SDU officers she planned to attend the police station on the night of his arrest.298 The SDU attempted to dissuade her.299 When Mr Cooper was arrested, as expected he asked for Ms Gobbo to attend his police interview as his legal adviser. Ms Gobbo obliged. She advised him that it was in his interests to assist police.300

Mr Cooper went on to cooperate with Victoria Police and make statements against other members of the Mokbel syndicate. He was ultimately sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of seven years.

Mr Tony Mokbel

Mr Mokbel was one of Ms Gobbo’s most high-profile clients. By early 2002, Ms Gobbo was acting for him.301 According to Ms Gobbo, her motivation to become a human source was to rid herself of ‘the Mokbel cartel’ as ‘she was frustrated at the Mokbels’ capacity to use lawyers to control others around them’302 and ‘sickened [by] the amount of crime they were getting away with’.303

As noted above, Mr Mokbel was a primary target for the Purana Taskforce and, consequently, a key individual about whom the SDU wanted intelligence from Ms Gobbo. She delivered in spades, providing a wealth of information about him, his family and his associates.

In December 2005, Mr Mokbel was on trial for narcotics offences in relation to Operation Plutonium. Ms Gobbo was acting as junior counsel. She provided information to the SDU about the strength of the case, including her opinion that he had ‘no defence’ and that his senior counsel wanted him to plead guilty but he was ‘too stubborn’.304 During the trial, Ms Gobbo continued to provide information to the SDU concerning defence tactics, including the names of possible defence witnesses from whom she had taken statements and the likelihood of Mr Mokbel giving evidence in the trial.305 She also provided information as to Mr Mokbel’s views about his jury and the fact that he did not want its composition to change.306

On 17 March 2006, Ms Gobbo told her handlers that she suspected Mr Mokbel was planning some ‘unknown criminality’, as he had asked her twice not to contact him that weekend.307

Soon after, Mr Mokbel absconded and was convicted in his absence.308 After he was later captured in Greece, Ms Gobbo also provided information to Victoria Police on strategies he was employing to challenge extradition and to defend and delay those proceedings.309

On 3 July 2012, Mr Mokbel was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 22 years.310 In 2017, Mr Mokbel launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.

Mr Rob Karam

Another notable example of the intelligence provided by Ms Gobbo related to Mr Karam, an associate of Mr Mokbel who was charged with large-scale drug importations. On 5 June 2007, Ms Gobbo sent a message to her SDU handlers, advising them that Mr Karam had asked her to hold documents for safekeeping.311

At a meeting later that night, she provided the photocopied documents to the SDU and said that they ‘relate to shipping containers being imported’ by an associate of Mr Karam.312

Later, she helped the SDU translate one of the documents, a bill of lading, from Italian into English.313 She noted that it referred to the importation of tinned tomatoes from Italy and listed shipment details such as the ship name, container number, port of origin and departure date.314

Inside those cans of tomatoes authorities later uncovered what was then the world’s largest seizure of ecstasy. Mr Karam was convicted after a trial. In 2016, Mr Karam launched an appeal against his conviction, citing Ms Gobbo’s involvement with police.315

Mr Thomas (a pseudonym)

Mr Thomas was an associate of the Mokbels’ and Williams’ crime syndicates. Ms Gobbo acted for him on multiple occasions between 2002 and 2008.

On 16 August 2004, he was arrested and charged with the murders of Mr Barbaro and Mr Moran.316 Mr McGrath, a co-accused in the murders and a client of Ms Gobbo, made statements implicating Mr Thomas and agreed to give evidence against him.317

On several occasions, Ms Gobbo discussed Mr Thomas’ legal position, and her strategies to encourage him to assist police, with her handlers.318

Following lengthy negotiations, Mr Thomas entered into a formal agreement with police to cooperate and assist the authorities, in exchange for the prosecution pursuing only one charge of murder against him and submitting that he should receive a discounted sentence.319 He was convicted of the murder of Mr Moran and sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 years.320

Mr Thomas then gave statements to police implicating several people in criminal activities.321

Mr Faruk Orman

Mr Faruk Orman was a close associate of Mr Domenic (Mick) Gatto. In her evidence to the Commission, Ms Gobbo said that she knew Victoria Police had a plan to identify those in Mr Gatto’s circle who they might turn into a human source, settling on Mr Orman.322

Ms Gobbo represented Mr Orman after he was charged with the murder of Mr Victor Peirce. Mr Thomas, whom Ms Gobbo had previously represented, was a key witness against Mr Orman, and the case against him substantially depended on Mr Thomas’ testimony.323 Unknown to Mr Orman, Ms Gobbo encouraged Mr Thomas to give evidence against Mr Orman.324

Mr Orman pleaded not guilty but was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 14 years. In 2010 and 2011, he unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia.

In February 2019, after the public revelation the previous year of Ms Gobbo as a human source (described further below), Mr Orman filed a petition of mercy with the Victorian Attorney-General, who referred the matter to the Court of Appeal. In July 2019, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) conceded that the circumstances amounted to a substantial miscarriage of justice, and that the conviction should be set aside.

On 26 July 2019, the Court allowed Mr Orman’s appeal and acquitted him.

Victoria Police concerns regarding Ms Gobbo as a human source

Reward application

In January and February 2006, Ms Gobbo incurred three speeding tickets.325 She asked the SDU to pay them. On 17 March 2006, her handler said that this might cause her role as a human source to be exposed.326 Ms Gobbo said her main concern was that she had recently accrued a large number of demerit points and was close to having her licence suspended.327 On 28 March 2006, SDU officers prepared a reward application to have the fines withdrawn.328

The application outlined the assistance Ms Gobbo provided, referring to her registration number ‘3838’ and her name. It also noted that she was supplying extremely valuable information in relation to the Purana Taskforce and Operation Posse.329 The application was given to Superintendent Mark Porter as the Local Informer Registrar, the Human Source Management Unit (HSMU) and then the Human Source Rewards Committee, which approved payments for expenses and rewards in relation to human sources.330

On 26 April 2006, the Victoria Police Payments Committee, consisting of Mr Simon Overland, APM then Commander Dannye Moloney and then Detective Superintendent Blayney, met regarding the application.331 On 27 April 2006, the SDU told Ms Gobbo that the speeding fines had been withdrawn but that this would not occur again.332 The application was formally approved on 12 May 2006.333

Another assessment and an audit of Ms Gobbo

After the arrests of Mr Cooper and others in April 2006, serious concerns emerged within Victoria Police about the potential revelation of Ms Gobbo’s identity and her safety. Court proceedings were underway against several individuals about whom she had provided intelligence and the Office of Police Integrity (OPI) was seeking to examine her.

On or around 19 April 2006, Mr Moloney directed then Superintendent Anthony (Tony) Biggin to conduct an audit of the SDU’s human source records relating to Ms Gobbo.334 Mr Biggin told the Commission that the audit was a ‘broad overviewing audit’ rather than an in-depth one.335

On 26 April 2006, the day before the audit was to take place, her handler prepared a second risk assessment, which updated the initial risk assessment of 15 November 2005.336 This was prepared because further information was identified as escalating the risk of Ms Gobbo being compromised. The new risks included that she had informed against a number of people who could pose a risk to her, that she had assisted a number of ‘high level criminals’ in cooperating with police and that her phone was being intercepted by another agency.337 Mr White determined that the risk to Ms Gobbo was still high but that she remained ‘strategically and tactically viable’.338

Mr Biggin undertook the audit on 27 April 2006.339 He attended the SDU, and spoke to Mr White and some of the handlers.340 In completing his audit, Mr Biggin noted in his diary ‘no issues identified’.341 He prepared a report in the form of an Issue Cover Sheet, which examined compliance with human source policy, provided a risk assessment and made general observations before providing a recommendation in relation to Ms Gobbo’s continued use by Victoria Police.342 Mr Biggin reported that Ms Gobbo was a ‘valuable asset’ to Victoria Police, and that the relationship should continue. He also recommended that the SDU continue to manage Ms Gobbo.343

Meetings about the termination process

On 17 May 2006, Mr Overland and SDU officers met about the need to develop an ‘exit strategy’ for Ms Gobbo.344 Mr White told the Commission that the SDU considered that it had a continuing ‘duty of care’ to Ms Gobbo and her safety and welfare.345

Ms Gobbo’s potential exposure was a growing concern for the SDU.346 They put her into ‘caretaker mode’ or ‘babysitting mode’.347 They told her that they did not want further information, and that if she provided it, they would not act on it.348

Despite having discussions about terminating Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source, the SDU continued to receive a significant amount of information from her.349

The SDU also became aware that the OPI were considering examining her in Operation Khadi. The examination related to alleged corruption of a police officer, Mr John Brown (a pseudonym). Ms Gobbo was linked to this operation as she was representing and associating socially with Mr Ahmed, who Mr John Brown had arrested. Ms Gobbo had told a prosecutor that Mr John Brown had stolen $5,000 from Mr Ahmed’s car on the night of his arrest.350 She later told her handlers about the allegation.351

On 24 July 2006, Mr Swindells and then Detective Inspector Lindsay Attrill of the ESD visited Ms Gobbo regarding her allegations.352 Ms Gobbo raised concerns about subpoenas being issued, and about being called to give evidence at the OPI.353 She contacted her handler after this meeting in a distressed state, telling him that it appeared her role as a human source was more widely known than she had thought.354 The handler told her that the SDU were attempting to ‘head off’ any OPI hearing.355

On 28 July 2006, her handlers said that she was no longer to be involved in the Operation Khadi investigation. They told her that no statement would be taken, and that she would not be brought before the OPI.356

‘Babysitting’ Ms Gobbo

Early in 2007, the SDU held further discussions, internally and with other Victoria Police officers about winding down the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source. For example, officers Mr White and Mr Ryan spoke about ‘easing her out of the picture’.357

In his evidence to the Commission, Officer Fox (a pseudonym), who took over as Ms Gobbo’s handler in June 2007, said that part of his brief was to assist in ending her relationship with Victoria Police.358

Mr Fox gave evidence to the Commission that, at this time, the SDU’s intention was not to task Ms Gobbo to provide information that investigators could use.359 She would continue to pass on information she heard in her ‘social circle’.360 That information was risk assessed by the SDU before it was released. Mr Fox told the Commission that if that information came from Ms Gobbo’s professional relationships, it was not released.361

Notwithstanding this evidence, it is apparent that the SDU did task Ms Gobbo on a number of occasions in relation to the Briars Taskforce (discussed further below).362

By early 2007, Ms Gobbo was expressing frustration to her SDU handlers about not being tasked.363 She continued to volunteer intelligence to them, including significant intelligence that they felt they could not ignore.364

On 2 May 2007, she attended a dinner with officers Mr O’Brien, Mr White, Mr Green and Officer Anderson (a pseudonym) at the Sebel Heritage Golf Course.365 Mr O’Brien presented her with a silver pen. The dinner and pen were intended as a gesture to thank her for the assistance she had provided to the Purana Taskforce and to be part of the process of ‘winding down’ her role as a human source.366

On 4 May 2007, Mr White met with a psychologist who the SDU had arranged for Ms Gobbo. They discussed Ms Gobbo’s ‘exit strategy’, noting the ‘hole’ that would be left in her life should her contact with police cease.367

In June 2007, Ms Gobbo told her handler that she wanted to end her relationship with the SDU.368 She said that she had spent the previous night vomiting and considered this to be an internal reaction to her stress.369

Threats to Ms Gobbo

Throughout 2006 and 2007, Ms Gobbo told Victoria Police she was receiving threatening text messages. In response, the Purana Taskforce established Operation Gosford.

On 6 February 2008, Ms Gobbo’s human source number was changed to ‘11792958’, commonly shortened to ‘2958’. This change was because many police officers knew she was human source ‘3838’ and there was a risk her identity could be revealed through ‘loose conversation’.370

On 16 April 2008, Ms Gobbo’s car was set on fire in Clarendon Street, South Melbourne. The suspect was a client.371 Subsequently, other barristers at her chambers raised concerns about her inappropriate personal and professional relationships with her clients, other barristers’ clients and police officers.372 Later in 2008, Ms Gobbo was asked to leave those chambers.373

Ms Gobbo continued to receive threats to her life in 2009. For example, on 26 May 2009, she received several death threats via text message.374

Ms Gobbo’s road to becoming a witness

In March 2007, two joint Victoria Police and OPI taskforces were established.

  • The Briars Taskforce sought to investigate the unsolved murder of Mr Chartres-Abbott, referred to in media reports as the ‘vampire gigolo’. Mr Overland established this taskforce as a joint investigation between the ESD and OPI. The Board of Management included then Assistant Commissioner Thomas (Luke) Cornelius, APM of the ESD, Mr Overland and Mr Graham Ashton, AM, APM, as then Assistant Director of the OPI.375 Superintendent Rodney (Rod) Wilson led the Briars Taskforce.376
  • The Petra Taskforce sought to investigate the unsolved murders of Mr Terry Hodson and his wife Mrs Christine Hodson.377 Mr Overland led the Board of Management, which also included Mr Cornelius and Mr Ashton.378 Mr Ryan headed the Petra Taskforce.379

It became apparent to investigators that Ms Gobbo had highly valuable connections and information relevant to both taskforces.380

Discussions about Ms Gobbo’s future

On 6 August 2007, Mr Overland, Mr Biggin, Mr White, Mr Blayney and Mr Ryan attended a meeting to discuss Ms Gobbo’s role. Mr White recorded in his diary that Mr Overland was told of discussions about three options for Ms Gobbo’s ongoing management:

  • deactivate her as a human source
  • use her as a witness
  • continue to manage her as a human source, but not task her.381

Mr White recorded that the meeting attendees discussed the difficulty of deactivating Ms Gobbo as a human source because of the need to communicate with her during the court proceedings for those on whom she had informed.382 He also noted that she could not be a witness, as this would compromise her status as a human source.383

The meeting attendees determined that they would continue to manage Ms Gobbo as a human source with no tasking and that Mr Biggin would conduct a risk assessment of any intelligence she provided prior to police acting on or disseminating that intelligence.384

In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Overland could not recall this meeting, but said he expected that if the handlers had concerns about the use of Ms Gobbo, they would have raised those concerns.385

Briars Taskforce

Ms Gobbo was on the radar of the Briars Taskforce as she was identified on telephone intercepts of a person of interest in the investigation, former Victoria Police officer Mr David Waters.386

Notwithstanding that Ms Gobbo was in ‘babysitting mode’ and not to be tasked at this time, her connection to Mr Waters was not lost upon investigators.387 She was linked to him through her friendship with Mr Campbell, and had associated with Mr Waters at various places.388 She had also represented Mr Waters in a previous matter.389 Mr White and Briars Taskforce investigator Mr Iddles discussed the viability of tasking her.390

Subsequently, Ms Gobbo was tasked to obtain information from Mr Waters and reported some conversations to her handlers.391

By the end of October 2007, Ms Gobbo knew that Mr Waters was considering engaging her as his lawyer.392 On 29 October 2007, she reported to her handler that Mr Waters had discussed aspects of the investigation with her, including that his solicitor had told him that then Detective Senior Sergeant Ronald (Ron) Iddles, OAM, APM wanted to interview him and that if interviewed, he might read out a statement and not answer questions.393

On 7 November 2007, Mr Waters sent Ms Gobbo an email, with the subject line ‘confidential’, attaching the statement that he proposed to read in his record of interview.394 That day, Ms Gobbo told her handlers that, in her opinion, the statement was not detailed enough and that she had advised Mr Waters of this. She said she understood she was not to assist Mr Waters to write the statement. This information was provided to Mr Iddles.395

On 14 January 2008, Briars Taskforce investigators then Detective Inspector Stephen (Steve) Waddell and Mr Iddles visited Ms Gobbo in her chambers, where they interviewed her about the murder of Mr Chartres-Abbott. She provided details about matters relevant to the investigation.396 They later determined that, given her knowledge, they should get a statement from her.397 That was not done until 2009, and is described in further detail below.

Petra Taskforce

The Petra Taskforce investigation gained momentum when Mr Carl Williams began assisting police in relation to the Hodson murders. This worried Ms Gobbo. In early 2007, she told her handlers she was concerned that Mr Williams might ‘set her up’ or implicate her in criminal activity.398

Mr Williams later made a statement that implicated Mr Dale and referred to Ms Gobbo acting as a conduit between him and Mr Dale, passing messages and setting up meetings.399 Ms Gobbo became a person of interest in the investigation as Petra Taskforce investigators considered that she could corroborate Mr Williams’ allegations, including that Mr Dale had contacted him to secure a hitman to murder Mr Terry Hodson.400

On 9 May 2007, Ms Gobbo left a message for her handler to the effect that she had discovered that Mr Williams had made a statement naming her as an associate of Mr Dale. She said that the handlers, who were supposed to be looking out for her, failed to tell her this.401

Initial interviews with the Petra Taskforce investigators

In 2008, Mr Solomon and Mr Davey from Petra Taskforce interviewed Ms Gobbo about the Hodson murders.402 Neither officer knew she was a human source assisting Victoria Police.403

The first formal interview occurred on 26 February 2008.404

The interview was not completed that day, and continued on 28 February 2008.405 On 5 March 2008, she took part in another interview.406

Office of Police Integrity examinations in relation to the Hodson murders

In July and August 2007, Ms Gobbo was called to an OPI hearing relating to the Hodson murders.407 The purpose was to question Ms Gobbo about her knowledge of the leaked IR that identified Mr Hodson as a human source (also known as ‘IR44’), and the allegation that she was a conduit between Mr Mokbel, Mr Williams and Mr Dale in relation to the leaking of that IR. Those examinations were undertaken by the Honourable Gerald Edward (Tony) Fitzgerald, AC, QC assisted by barrister, Mr Garry Livermore.408

In the lead up to the examinations, on 17 July 2007, SDU officers met with Ms Gobbo and discussed her options in relation to answering questions at the hearing that could reveal she was a human source.409 They determined that the best option would be to ‘influence’ the questions she was asked to ensure her role as a human source was not exposed.410

On 18 July 2007, her handler told Ms Gobbo that protections had been put in place to avoid her identity being revealed during the examination.411 This included that she would not be asked if she had spoken to anyone about receiving the summons to attend the OPI hearing.412 The OPI had served Ms Gobbo with a confidentiality notice, along with the witness summons. These notices provided that it was an offence to discuss the existence of the summons or the subject matter with anyone except in limited circumstances, such as to obtain legal advice.413 Her handler also told Ms Gobbo that if she felt threatened by a question, she could call a ‘time out’ and Mr Ryan, who was leading the Petra Taskforce at the time, would be there to deal with the issue.414

On 19 July 2007, Ms Gobbo attended the OPI examination.415 Mr Ryan attended but watched from a separate room.416 During a break, Ms Gobbo telephoned her handler, and again after the examination. She expressed her unhappiness with the line of questioning, complaining that the questions were open-ended and risked exposing her role as a human source.417

Ms Gobbo was called to another OPI hearing on 17 August 2007.418 Mr Ryan was again present in a separate room.419 At the outset of the hearing, Mr Fitzgerald told her that he believed she had not told the whole truth in her previous examination and had in fact told some ‘untruths’.420 Mr Fitzgerald and Mr Livermore both questioned Ms Gobbo about whether she had spoken to anyone else about her previous attendance at the OPI hearing.421 Ms Gobbo told them that she did not think she could answer.422 She then requested and was granted a break.

During that break, she spoke to Mr Ryan, who told her to get a lawyer.423 When the hearing resumed, Ms Gobbo said that she wanted to seek legal advice. Mr Fitzgerald adjourned her evidence to allow her to do so.424 Ms Gobbo was not subsequently called back to the OPI to continue her examination.

Mr Fitzgerald, in his statement to the Commission, said he had no recollection of Ms Gobbo being a human source and that he would have remembered had he been told.425

Further interviews with Petra Taskforce investigators

On 17 November 2008, Ms Gobbo attended the Petra Taskforce offices. Investigators asked her to attend as they had information that she was in possession of ‘bodgy’ phones linked to Mr Dale around the time of the Hodson murders. After the interview, then Detective Senior Sergeant Shane O’Connell, who was by then heading the Petra Taskforce, told Mr White that Ms Gobbo had told her interviewers that she:

  • was aware of a corrupt relationship between Mr Dale and Mr Williams
  • had been a conduit between them prior to the Hodson murders
  • had used ‘bodgy phones’ to communicate with Mr Dale, who had also used ‘bodgy’ phones.426

Mr O’Connell also told Mr White that Ms Gobbo had cried and volunteered information, referred to having to ‘defend these blokes day in day out, they are morally bankrupt’, said that she was acting in a legally correct manner, that her head was full of information and asked Petra investigator Mr Davey ‘if that was you, what would you do?’.427

After the interview, Ms Gobbo told her handlers that Petra Taskforce investigators had requested a witness statement.428 In a separate conversation she told them that Petra Taskforce investigators wanted her to give evidence to corroborate Mr Williams’ assertions about his relationship with Mr Dale.429 She said that she did not want to be a witness due to concerns about her personal safety and the risk that her use as a human source would be revealed in cross-examination.430 In the ICR recording the conversation, her handler noted the potential for this to jeopardise future prosecutions and lead to claims that convictions were unsafe due to Ms Gobbo’s involvement.431

On 30 November 2008, Ms Gobbo received a call from Mr Dale, who asked her to meet. She reported this to her handlers and to Petra Taskforce investigators.432 On 3 December 2008, she met with Mr Davey and Mr O’Connell, who said that they wished to use her as a witness, both to close an evidentiary gap—the relationship between Mr Dale and Mr Williams—and because she was credible compared to Mr Williams.433

Ms Gobbo met with Mr Dale on 7 December 2008 and covertly recorded that meeting. Petra investigators determined after listening to the recording that Mr Dale had provided information that was important to the investigation.434 They formed the view that Ms Gobbo would be an integral witness in the case against Mr Dale.435

On 11 December 2008, Petra Taskforce investigators met with Ms Gobbo and told her that Mr Dale could not be charged or convicted without her evidence.436

Putting a ‘barrier/break’ in the relationship

In early December 2008, Mr Overland was considering whether Ms Gobbo should transition from a human source to a witness.437

This was a significant decision—it is only in rare circumstances that human sources are used as witnesses. That is because there are grave risks in doing so, particularly to the safety of sources: their identities can be exposed during court processes, including to those against whom they have informed.438

Mr Overland said that it was now apparent to him that Ms Gobbo could no longer be managed as a source. He considered that, if she were transitioned to a witness, she would be better protected as she could be subject to legislative and other protections, apparently a reference to the Witness Protection Act 1991 (Vic).439

The SDU had experienced difficulties in terminating Ms Gobbo’s role as a human source, due to concerns about her safety, their ongoing duty of care to her, and her continued desire to provide intelligence to them.440 Ending the relationship was difficult as, despite their efforts, she continued to engage with them.441

In his evidence to the Commission, Mr White considered that it was not the role of the SDU to manage Petra Taskforce witnesses. If the SDU continued to manage her, there was a risk of SDU officers being called to give evidence (for example, in relation to evidentiary matters) and her work as a source being revealed.442

On 5 December 2008, Mr Overland met with SDU officers to discuss Ms Gobbo assisting the Petra Taskforce, possibly as a witness.443 During this meeting, Mr White raised the SDU’s concerns about Ms Gobbo transitioning from human source to witness.444 In his evidence to the Commission, Mr White recalled Mr Overland indicating that while he understood the SDU position, Ms Gobbo was potentially useful in the very serious corruption investigation of Mr Dale.445 At this time, Mr Overland believed that she would likely enter witness protection, and would be adequately protected.446

Ms Gobbo’s SWOT analysis

The SDU continued to raise concerns about Ms Gobbo becoming a witness in the Dale prosecution.447 On 30 December 2008, Mr Moloney advised Mr Biggin that she was to sign a statement the next day.448 Mr Biggin directed Mr Black to complete a ‘strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats’ (SWOT) analysis regarding Ms Gobbo becoming a witness.449 Mr Biggin said that his aim was to create a record of having raised these issues with his superiors.450

The SWOT analysis documented substantial risks to both Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police if she were to become a witness.451 These included the exposure of her long-term relationship with Victoria Police as a human source, the possibility of an OPI or government review into the legal and ethical implications of having used a serving barrister as a human source, and the potential for prosecutions on foot to be jeopardised.452

Mr Biggin prepared and signed an Issue Cover Sheet (a Victoria Police internal briefing note), attaching the SWOT analysis, and provided it to Mr Porter, with a recommendation that it be given to Mr Moloney, who was a member of the Petra Taskforce.453 Mr Moloney noted on the Issue Cover Sheet that it was to be provided to Mr Overland for the attention of the Petra Taskforce Board of Management.454

Meetings with the Petra Taskforce about Ms Gobbo’s witness statement

On 1 and 2 January 2009, Mr Davey and Mr Solomon met with Ms Gobbo and took a statement from her, which she did not sign.455

When speaking later with her handler, she said she wanted financial compensation to become a witness, noting ‘this evidence is gold but it comes at a price’.456 She signed the statement on 7 January 2009.457

Deregistration as a human source

On 12 January 2009, Ms Gobbo met with SDU officers, telling them she had signed the statement because she ‘got all the promises’ she wanted from Mr O’Connell.458

On 13 January 2009, Ms Gobbo was deactivated as a human source and formally transitioned to her role as ‘Witness F’ in the prosecution of Mr Dale for the Hodson murders. Mr Dale was charged with the murders in February 2009.459

As Ms Gobbo had transitioned to a witness, the Petra Taskforce took over the role of managing her.460 Compared to relationships with her SDU handlers, Ms Gobbo’s relationships with Petra Taskforce handlers were more difficult. Efforts were made to convince Ms Gobbo to join the Witness Protection Program.461

Briars Taskforce: the Bali statement

The Briars Taskforce investigations had come to a standstill in late 2008 due to a lack of leads.462 In early 2009, a potential witness came forward and the taskforce was reconvened.463

Investigators from the Briars Taskforce wanted a statement from Ms Gobbo in relation to Mr Waters’ possible involvement in the murder of Mr Chartres-Abbott.464 In May 2009, Mr Iddles and Mr Waddell visited her in Bali where she was holidaying after her deregistration as a human source.465 They took that statement over several days.466

The statement was not signed, as both Mr Iddles and Mr Waddell held concerns that Ms Gobbo could not independently recall her meetings or interactions with Mr Waters without reviewing the more contemporaneous ICRs prepared by the SDU. They noticed she appeared to have changed aspects of what she told them in 2008.467 It also appeared to them that her role as a human source was likely to be exposed if the statement was used in criminal proceedings.468

2010 to 2018: Civil litigation, reviews and court proceedings

An overview of the civil litigation between Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police, the three confidential external reviews into the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and the court proceedings that followed is outlined in Figure 6.4 and discussed further below.

Figure 6.4: Timeline of civil litigation, reviews into the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source and court proceedings, 2009 to 2018
2009

7 September: Ms Gobbo writes to then Chief Commissioner Simon Overland, APM threatening legal proceedings and noting ‘the difficulties’ that Victoria Police may encounter if her assistance to police from 2005–09 is disclosed.

28 September: Ms Gobbo writes to Mr Overland for the second time, expressing frustration at Victoria Police’s response and again notes the assistance she has given.

2010

21 January: Ms Gobbo writes to Mr Overland for the third time.

27 January: Mr Paul Dale’s lawyers serve a subpoena on Victoria Police for documents concerning Ms Gobbo and any agreement for Victoria Police to provide inducements to her to give evidence against him.

8 February: Ms Gobbo’s lawyers write to the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office regarding the subpoena and threaten legal action.

10 March: Mr Dale’s lawyer requests Ms Gobbo’s human source file from Victoria Police.

19 April: Mr Carl Williams is killed in prison after the media reported that he was assisting police in relation to gangland murders.

29 April: Ms Gobbo files proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria against Victoria Police claiming that the conduct of Victoria Police for failing to keep her safe as a witness has detrimentally affected her health and ruined her career, causing her economic loss; specifically, loss of earnings as a barrister.

7 June: The charges against Mr Dale and Mr Rodney Collins are withdrawn for the Hodson murders.

11 August: Ms Gobbo reaches a settlement with Victoria Police, which includes terms that she will not be called as a witness or be contacted by Victoria Police again.

2011

15 February: Mr Dale is charged with Commonwealth offences alleging that he gave false evidence before the Australian Crime Commission in 2007 and 2008. The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) wants to call Ms Gobbo as a witness.

4 October: Barrister Mr Gerard Maguire provides legal advice to Victoria Police that it may be required to disclose to Mr Dale’s lawyers material relating to Ms Gobbo’s dealings with the SDU. He also raises concerns about potential miscarriages of justice in other cases caused by Ms Gobbo informing on her clients.

Early November: The CDPP reviews documents about Ms Gobbo’s role as a human source and provides advice that Victoria Police will have to disclose documents regarding Ms Gobbo to Mr Dale.

3 November: Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, Executive Director of Legal Services, then Assistant Commissioner Graham Ashton, AM, APM and then Acting Deputy Commissioner Timothy (Tim) Cartwright, APM meet to discuss Mr Maguire’s advice. The decisions made during this meeting result in actions such as Mr Ashton advising the CDPP that Victoria Police does not want Ms Gobbo used as a witness, the CDPP withdrawing charges against Mr Dale, and a review of Ms Gobbo’s use as a human source.

9 November: Ms Gobbo is advised she is not to be a witness in the proceedings against Mr Dale. Consequently, the CDPP withdraws a number of charges against him.

2012

19 March: Victoria Police engages former Chief Commissioner Neil Comrie, AO, APM to undertake a confidential review of its use of Ms Gobbo as a human source (Comrie Review). Superintendent Stephen (Steve) Gleeson is appointed to support Mr Comrie in his investigations.

22 June: Mr Gleeson prepares a report on issues that arose during his investigations, but were outside the scope of the terms of reference, such as the manner in which Ms Gobbo was used as a human source to inform on clients. This report is later provided to the Office of Police Integrity.

30 July: The Comrie Review makes 27 recommendations, including improved supervision and more robust risk assessment processes for high-risk human sources.

2014

31 March: The Herald Sun publishes an article entitled ‘Underworld lawyer a secret police informer’, alleging Victoria Police had recruited a lawyer to inform on gangland identities. Victoria Police obtain suppression orders to stop publication of the article. The application was withdrawn after the Herald Sun agreed to remove certain paragraphs.

1 April: Mr McRae, then Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane, Professional Standards Command and Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana, Crime Command, meet with the Commissioner of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), Mr Stephen O’Bryan, QC to notify IBAC of issues related to Ms Gobbo. Mr McRae and Mr Leane also meet with the then Director of Prosecutions, Mr John Champion, SC.

10 April: Chief Commissioner Mr Kenneth (Ken) Lay, AO writes to Mr O’Bryan requesting that IBAC takes primacy of an investigation into possible media leaks regarding Ms Gobbo and that it conducts a review of Victoria Police’s implementation of the recommendations contained in the Comrie Review.

21 May: An investigation by IBAC is commenced regarding the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source (Kellam Report).

July–October 2014: Mr Gobbo writes to senior Victoria Police officers to express her frustrations and seeks a reward for her assistance to police.

2015

6 February: The Kellam Report makes 16 recommendations and its report identifies nine individuals who had received, or possibly received, legal assistance from Ms Gobbo while she was informing on them to Victoria Police. It recommends the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) reviews the relevant cases to determine whether miscarriages of justice had occurred due to the conduct of Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police. A copy of the Kellam Report is provided to the DPP.

7 July: Ms Gobbo writes to Mr Fontana, setting out why she believes that she is entitled to a reward for her assistance to Victoria Police.

2016

5 February: The DPP delivers a report regarding affected prosecutions regarding some of the cases identified in the Kellam Report (Champion Report).

March: The DPP writes to the then Chief Commissioner Mr Ashton advising that he intends to disclose to the individuals identified in the Champion Report that their case may have been affected by the use of a lawyer as a human source.

10 June: The Chief Commissioner commences proceedings to prevent the DPP from making the disclosure to the potentially affected individuals. Ms Gobbo later joins the proceedings.

November–March: The matter is heard before Justice Ginnane in the Supreme Court of Victoria in closed court, without notice to the potentially affected individuals and suppression orders are made.

2017

June: Justice Ginnane dismisses the Supreme Court proceedings, deciding that disclosure should be made to the affected individuals. The decision is subject to a non-publication order.

September: The Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria hears the Chief Commissioner’s and Ms Gobbo’s appeals in closed court, without notice to the affected individuals and subject to suppression orders.

21 November: The Court of Appeal upholds Justice Ginnane’s decision and revokes the grant of special leave of appeal. A non-publication order is made.

2018

5 November: After granting special leave to appeal on 9 May 2018, the High Court of Australia hears the appeals of the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo, again in closed court, without notice to the affected individuals and subject to suppression orders. It revokes its grants of special leave. Suppression orders are made but the parties are permitted to notify Commonwealth and Victorian Government entities.

3 December: The High Court’s reasons and orders, with Ms Gobbo’s name pseudonymised, are published but suppression orders as to Ms Gobbo’s identity as a human source remain in place.

3 December: The Victorian Premier, The Hon Daniel Andrews, MP announces he will establish a royal commission.

13 December: The Commission’s Letters Patent are issued.

Ms Gobbo tries to withdraw as a witness

Throughout the latter half of 2009, Victoria Police continued to negotiate unsuccessfully with Ms Gobbo regarding her entrance into the Witness Protection Program.469 On behalf of Victoria Police, then Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe wrote to Ms Gobbo several times about her entry into the program.470

On 7 September 2009, Ms Gobbo wrote to Mr Overland, who had become Chief Commissioner earlier that year, threatening legal proceedings. She referred to the information and assistance she had been giving to Victoria Police and stated:

I need not remind you of the difficulties that Victoria Police may encounter if some or any of my past assistance comes out in the prosecution of Dale.471

Mr Walshe responded to that letter on 14 September 2009 on behalf of Victoria Police.472

On 28 September 2009, Ms Gobbo wrote to Mr Overland for the second time expressing her disappointment in the Victoria Police response and the difficulties for the organisation if her past assistance was disclosed:

For the record I note your apology. However, the tone and content of your letter was deeply upsetting and offensive, and particularly disappointing in the context of my very lengthy period of (and continuing) unprecedented assistance given voluntarily and without reward, to your organisation.473

Negotiations between Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police continued. On 21 January 2010, Ms Gobbo wrote to Mr Overland for the third time expressing her frustrations:

As a former Deputy Commissioner for Crime, I am sure that I need not remind you of the difficulties that Victoria Police will encounter if some or any of my past assistance is disclosed in the course of the prosecution of Dale. As matters currently stand, such disclosure would appear to be inevitable. Leaving aside the impact such disclosure will have on me personally (including but not limited to my future safety), the difficulties Victoria Police will encounter will extend well beyond the obvious embarrassment and damage that will be done to the Dale prosecution.

I have for many months now repeatedly stated that the best way to avoid jeopardising the Dale prosecution is to ensure that evidentiary protections afforded under the Witness Protection Act be granted to me. It alarms me greatly that with Dale’s Committal scheduled to commence in less than 7 weeks time, and in circumstances where Dale is anticipated to serve subpoenas on Monday 25 January 2010, Victoria Police is still to determine the issue of my participation in the Witness Protection Program. I can only hope that this Issue is resolved before Dale files and serves his subpoenas, after which time it will simply be too late.

In one final attempt to avoid what I suspect will otherwise be an irreparable and intractable situation for all parties, I am imploring you to please read the enclosed correspondence, particularly in light of the incredible sacrifices I have made for Victoria Police in circumstances where I have asked for nothing other than for the organisation to honour the representations and assurances that have been made to me. Further, I beseech you to reconsider the stance that has been adopted by Victoria Police to date and do so appealing to your professionalism, decency, humanity and conscience.

Will you meet with me? 474

On 27 January 2010, Mr Dale served a subpoena on the Chief Commissioner, requiring production of documents concerning Ms Gobbo and any agreement for Victoria Police to induce her to give evidence against him.475

During this time, Ms Gobbo’s legal representatives made known to Victoria Police that they were contemplating civil action for the compensation she said had been promised.476 Ms Gobbo and her legal representatives became aware of the subpoena and that it was directed towards assistance Ms Gobbo provided to Victoria Police ‘in investigations other than that of Mr Dale’.477 Her lawyers wrote to the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office (VGSO), the legal representatives for the Chief Commissioner, on 8 February 2010. The correspondence noted that Ms Gobbo was concerned about her safety because, if Victoria Police claimed PII on the grounds of informer privilege in answer to the subpoena, this would effectively label her as a human source.478 The correspondence stated that Victoria Police would be held liable for harm, loss and damage suffered arising from the production of documents in answer to the subpoena.479

In late February 2010, Ms Gobbo’s lawyers notified the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) that she was too unwell to give evidence.480 Her legal representatives also sent a letter to the VGSO demanding that Victoria Police provide her with the compensation she had been promised.481

Mr Dale’s legal representatives continued to seek documents relevant to Ms Gobbo during this period.482 On 10 March 2010, Mr Hargreaves, Mr Dale’s solicitor, enquired about the existence of a human source file for Ms Gobbo. As Victoria Police had claimed PII in respect of some material, he had surmised from that claim that she must have been a human source.483

On 12 March 2010, Ms Gobbo’s legal representatives sought to have her excused from the witness summons due to her ill health. While refusing to set the summons aside, the magistrate adjourned her evidence until 17 June 2010.484

Murder of Mr Carl Williams

On 19 April 2010, Mr Williams was murdered in Barwon prison. Ms Gobbo subsequently offered to assist police with the investigation. She told Detective Sergeant Stuart Bailey of the Homicide Squad on several occasions that she was attempting to meet and obtain information from a third party about the Williams murder.485 Mr Bailey and other officers were concerned that this would jeopardise her safety as her identity as a human source was already at risk of exposure.486

On 7 June 2010, the charges of murder against Mr Dale and Mr Rodney Collins were formally withdrawn at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

Ms Gobbo starts civil litigation against Victoria Police

On 29 April 2010, Ms Gobbo filed proceedings in the Supreme Court against the State of Victoria, Mr Overland and former Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon, APM.487 Ms Gobbo claimed that the conduct of Victoria Police had detrimentally affected her health and ruined her career, causing economic loss; specifically, loss of earnings and capacity to earn income as a barrister.488

Ms Gobbo’s claim related only to the police engagement with her as a prospective witness for the Petra Taskforce in prosecution of Mr Dale. It did not address her engagement with Victoria Police as a human source.

On 11 August 2010, Ms Gobbo signed terms of settlement with Victoria Police.489 The financial settlement only referred to Ms Gobbo’s status as a witness in the proceeding against Mr Dale and did not refer to her history as a registered human source. The settlement included a term that Victoria Police would not call Ms Gobbo to give evidence in any proceedings and officers from the Petra Taskforce would not contact her.

Despite agreeing to and signing those terms of settlement, on 12 August 2010 Ms Gobbo contacted then Detective Senior Constable Angela Hantsis:

Hi Ang, until permitted contact with me again, I just wanted to say thank you for your wise words to [Mr Cooper] who passed on your message. I’ve just been re-diagnosed with stress related cancer (reappeared since March surgery) and I intend to do as you suggested, to ‘look after myself’ I made the mistake of trusting people I respected highly stupidly thinking they actually cared. It really hurts to be used and taken advantage of especially when serious illness results. I truly thank you for your kind thoughts conveyed by [Mr Cooper] I understand that you’d be there to offer the support I so badly required if you were allowed contact.490

On 12 August 2010, Mr Overland directed that Petra Taskforce investigators were not to contact Ms Gobbo. He also directed that, if Ms Gobbo contacted officers, under no circumstances was any information, intelligence or evidence to be solicited or taken from her.491 Mr Overland said he gave this direction after he became aware that Ms Gobbo remained in contact with Victoria Police.492

On 29 August 2010, Standard Operating Procedures relating to contact with Ms Gobbo (referred to as ‘Witness F’) were issued and noted:

The following options may apply to information received from Witness F:

  • Information may not be acted on for reasons which may jeopardise Witness F safety or security, issues of identification etc will be major considerations ...
  • The SDU Detective Inspector to advise Witness F that information received may or may not be acted upon
  • Information after sanitisation may be re directed to appropriate investigative units
  • Information is not to be sourced to Witness F
  • Investigators are to be advised that information has been received from a person who cannot be identified.493

After 30 August 2010, Ms Gobbo spoke to then Detective Inspector John O’Connor, her designated point of contact at Victoria Police, on numerous occasions.494 She gave him information regarding individuals including Mr Williams.495 Then Superintendent Peter Lardner and Mr Pope, then an Assistant Commissioner, provided advice to Mr O’Connor’s immediate supervisor, then Superintendent Paul Sheridan, that information from her should be received but she was not to be tasked to follow up this information.496

Driver Taskforce and second prosecution of Mr Paul Dale

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions charges against Mr Paul Dale

Following the death of Mr Williams, Petra Taskforce was disbanded and the murder charges against Mr Dale and Mr Collins were withdrawn. The Driver Taskforce was established to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Williams.

Mr Solomon had submitted a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) recommending charges against Mr Dale for offences against the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 (Cth). After reviewing the brief of evidence, the CDPP indicated that they considered the case against Mr Dale to be strong, and recommended charges be brought against him.497

On 15 February 2011, Mr Dale was charged with 12 offences alleging that he gave false evidence before the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) in 2007 and 2008. Then Detective Senior Sergeant Boris Buick was the informant in relation to the charges and liaised with Ms Gobbo.

There were complications in calling Ms Gobbo as a witness in the CDPP prosecution. Agreement still had not been reached between Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police about her entering witness protection. There was also the term in the settlement agreement that Victoria Police no longer proposed to call Ms Gobbo to give evidence in any proceeding.

Problems with calling Ms Gobbo as a witness

Through his dealings with Ms Gobbo in 2011, Mr Buick was aware that the complications of calling Ms Gobbo as a witness extended beyond her involvement with Mr Dale. During their meetings, Ms Gobbo told Mr Buick about aspects of her history as a human source with the SDU, including her involvement in representing and informing on clients such as Mr Mokbel, Mr Cooper, Mr Thomas, Mr Orman and Mr Karam.

For example, on 16 February 2011, Mr Buick met with Ms Gobbo to inform her of the prosecution against Mr Dale. During the conversation she referred to Mr Orman’s case, in which Mr Buick was the informant, claiming credit for his conviction:

MS GOBBO: … The High Court matter you went up to Canberra for last week, you know how that happened.

MR BUICK: Well, I know, you’ve said that the other day. I ---

MS GOBBO: Go and ask ---

MR BUICK: I thought that was my—I thought that was my hard work.

MS GOBBO: No. You go and ask the right people Boris—it was a very well hidden thing, that’s why [Officers Sandy White, Green and Peter Smith] are exceptionally good … detectives. However, one would have thought that after you do all of that, someone shakes your hand and says, ‘Thank you’.

MR BUICK: you got … convicted for me.

MS GOBBO: You know. You don’t need me to say it for the tape.

MR BUICK: No, I was going to shake your hand if you said yes.498

The CDPP continued to seek to use Ms Gobbo as a witness in the Dale prosecution.

On 24 August 2011 during a meeting between Ms Gobbo, CDPP representatives and Mr Buick, Ms Gobbo raised matters that would make it difficult for her to give evidence. These included an oblique reference to the Tomato Tins prosecution.499 After the meeting, Ms Gobbo had a further conversation with Mr Buick:

MR BUICK: Can you just tell me, though, ’cause ---

MS GOBBO: Yeah.

MR BUICK: --- I’m not as clever as, you know, the rest of you. What’s the current prosecution that is—is the issue?

MS GOBBO: World’s biggest ever importation of ecstasy.

MR BUICK: And who’s up on that?

MS GOBBO: Higgs, Karam, Barbaro. The highest level of organised crime dealers.

MR BUICK: So they’ve all ---

MS GOBBO: Now, you—I can tell you, you—you, but the ACC, and VicPol and the AFP didn’t have a clue about that. I had the shipping documents. I got my hands on them and that’s how you found the world’s biggest ever single seizure of ecstasy in the world. Now you think I’m going to risk those people finding out—no fucking way.500

On 26 August 2011, Mr Buick spoke further with Ms Gobbo about the Tomato Tins prosecution. She explained her interaction with, and the information she provided to, the SDU during that period. She stated that Victoria Police had fed the information to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in order for the AFP to believe it had, of its own accord, located the shipping container containing the drugs. Ms Gobbo referred to her representation of Mr Karam at the time of the importation when she was also informing against him to police. She said she would not put herself in a situation where she might be asked questions about such matters in the witness box.501

Maguire advice

Mr Buick was concerned that Ms Gobbo’s role as a human source might be exposed as a result of material produced in response to the subpoenas Mr Dale’s lawyers filed.502 On around 31 August 2011, Victoria Police obtained urgent legal advice from barrister Gerard Maguire.503 In 2009, Mr Maguire had provided advice to the Briars Taskforce regarding whether Ms Gobbo’s statement would have to be disclosed to Mr Dale during his murder trial.504 In preparing that advice, Mr Maguire was told that Ms Gobbo was a registered human source but was not given many details.505 This time Mr Maguire reviewed the SML kept by the SDU in respect of Ms Gobbo.506 On 4 October 2011 he provided his advice.507

Mr Maguire advised that Victoria Police may be required to disclose some material relating to Ms Gobbo’s dealings with the SDU to Mr Dale’s lawyers. If Victoria Police was to make a PII claim to prevent this disclosure, it could be unsuccessful. That was because, when a court determines whether a PII claim should be upheld, it will balance the competing interests of protecting a human source with the public interest in disclosing the material. This material could assist Mr Dale’s defence that he and Ms Gobbo had a lawyer-client relationship when she taped their conversation; it would affect her credit in claiming that they were not in a lawyer-client relationship.508

Mr Maguire also noted that, if disclosure was made, it was likely that Mr Dale’s lawyers would seek further material demonstrating Ms Gobbo’s informing on others for whom she was acting, such as Mr Mokbel. If these people became aware of her role as a human source, they might challenge their convictions on the basis that they were unlawfully obtained.509

Once it was confirmed that Ms Gobbo’s role would need to be disclosed to the court for the PII argument, Victoria Police took steps to withdraw Ms Gobbo as a witness in the Commonwealth trial due to the significant risk to her safety.510

Victoria Police tries to withdraw Ms Gobbo as a witness

On 21 October 2011, Mr Buick met with officers of the Driver Taskforce Steering Committee to discuss the Dale prosecution and the consequences of Ms Gobbo being called as a witness and being cross-examined.511

That afternoon, Ms Gobbo met with Mr Buick and Detective Sergeant Jason Lebusque.512

During their conversation, Mr Buick said ‘it was possible’ that Victoria Police would ask the CDPP not to proceed with the prosecution, because the examination of Ms Gobbo, or Victoria Police’s production of documents relating to her, might jeopardise other prosecutions.513

Ms Gobbo asked why this was only being considered in 2011 when she had been raising these issues for years. She continued:

… I’ve always said the problem’s going to be the police, not in terms of my safety ’cause I’ll be dead but in terms of people jumping up and down about their convictions. I’ve said that for years. But isn’t this all based on the assumption that if somebody asks me a question, it comes out?514

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions identifies issues with disclosure

In early November 2011, officers of the Driver Taskforce organised for representatives of the CDPP to review documents about Ms Gobbo’s role as a human source.515 The CDPP considered that Mr Dale was likely to mount a defence that Ms Gobbo was acting as his legal adviser at the time of the recording.516 The CDPP advised that, given this defence, the prosecution would be required to produce documents including those relating to:

  • instances where she encouraged Mr Dale or others to believe that their communications were protected by legal professional privilege
  • information indicating she was a perpetrator or party to criminal activity
  • information indicating that Ms Gobbo lied to investigators or police handlers.517

Following that advice, Mr Graham Ashton, then Assistant Commissioner, Crime, requested that the CDPP only proceed with charges that did not rely on the evidence of Ms Gobbo.518

The CDPP asked for further information, which was prepared by SDU officers on 6 November 2011.519 The document provided a brief history and scope of Ms Gobbo’s informing between 2005 and 2009 and the number of cases it could have adversely impacted.520 The document included a list of 164 criminals, solicitors or former Victoria Police officers about whom Ms Gobbo had provided information, including Mr Mokbel and his associates, Mr Karam and his associates, and Mr Orman.

Mr Graham Ashton withdraws Ms Gobbo as a witness

On 7 November 2011, Mr Sheridan provided this document outlining Ms Gobbo’s role as a human source to Mr Ashton with a cover note stating:

Exposure of Witness F activities within Victoria Police as contained within this summary will have significant impact upon Victoria Police operations, past and present.521

In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Ashton said he was ‘shocked’ when he read the document on 7 November 2011.522 After receiving it, Mr Ashton determined that it was untenable for Ms Gobbo to proceed as a witness in the Commonwealth prosecution of Mr Dale.523 The next day, Mr Ashton advised the CDPP that Ms Gobbo was to be withdrawn as a witness because there were concerns for her safety.524 The CDPP withdrew her as a witness, and a number of charges against Mr Dale that relied on her testimony were withdrawn.525

Although Ms Gobbo was informed on 9 November 2011 that she was not to be called as a witness, she continued to offer to make statements in relation to the Hodson murders, including writing to then DPP, Mr John Champion, SC.526 The initial letters in 2011 were written by Mr Alex Lewenberg, her then solicitor, and referred only to his ‘client’ without explicitly identifying Ms Gobbo.527

Mr Champion, who did not know that the ‘client’ was Ms Gobbo, exchanged several letters with Mr Lewenberg, who indicated that his client was willing to assist law enforcement authorities in relation to the Hodson murders in exchange for a reward.528 Later, in a letter dated 27 February 2012, Mr Lewenberg referred to Ms Gobbo by name.529

The Comrie Review

On 19 March 2012, Victoria Police engaged former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Neil Comrie, AO, APM, to undertake a confidential review of Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.530

The catalyst for the review had been a meeting on 3 November 2011 between Mr McRae, Mr Ashton and Mr Cartwright to discuss Mr Maguire’s recent advice.531

Mr Comrie’s report, the ‘Comrie Review’, was completed in July 2012 and identified a number of issues relating to Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source, including that risk assessment processes used for Ms Gobbo were ‘grossly inadequate’, control measures were not complied with, authorisation processes were not as robust as they ought to have been, and supervision and management were unsatisfactory.532

Victoria Police started two operations as a result of the Comrie Review: Operation Loricated and Operation Bendigo. These aimed to address issues of concern arising from the Comrie Review and the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

After the Comrie Review, between June 2012 and 2014, Mr McRae met with the DPP a number of times to discuss Ms Gobbo and the implications arising from the information she provided to Victoria Police.533

The Comrie Review is discussed in further detail in Chapter 11.

Closure of Source Development Unit

After an internal review, Victoria Police determined in 2013 to close the SDU. In February 2013, SDU officers were informed of this decision.534

The Commission heard evidence that there were a wide range of factors involved in the decision, only one of which was the SDU’s management of Ms Gobbo.535 Victoria Police and the SDU handlers disagree as to the reasons for the closure. This matter is discussed further in Chapter 8.

‘Lawyer X’ story breaks

On 31 March 2014, the Herald Sun published an article entitled ‘Underworld Lawyer a Secret Police Informer’.536 The article alleged that Victoria Police had recruited a ‘prominent underworld lawyer’ to inform on criminal figures running Melbourne’s drug trade. It further alleged that this human source, referred to only as ‘Lawyer X’, had given Victoria Police ‘unprecedented access to information on some of Australia’s biggest drug barons and hitmen, including alleged corrupt police and others involved in Melbourne’s gangland war’.

While the article did not name Ms Gobbo, Victoria Police sought a suppression order to prevent its publication.537 Ultimately, the application was withdrawn after the Herald Sun agreed not to publish certain paragraphs of the article.538

Victoria Police had concerns for Ms Gobbo’s safety.539 It considered that the media reporting in relation to ‘Lawyer X’ was directly linked to threats subsequently made to Ms Gobbo.540 Officers from Victoria Police met with Ms Gobbo in April 2014.541 She continued to refuse to enter witness protection.542

On 1 April 2014, senior Victoria Police officers attended Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) to discuss the matters raised in the media article.543

The Kellam Report

On 10 April 2014, Victoria Police formally notified IBAC regarding the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.544 Chief Commissioner Kenneth (Ken) Lay, AO wrote to then IBAC Commissioner Stephen O’Bryan, QC stating that he considered that an independent body should investigate the allegations of police misconduct.545

As a result, the Honourable Murray Kellam AO, QC, on behalf of IBAC, undertook a confidential inquiry into the conduct of current and former Victoria Police officers identified in the Comrie Review in relation to their management of Ms Gobbo as a human source. He examined Victoria Police’s human source management policies and practices at the time that Ms Gobbo was registered as a human source between 2005 and 2009 and also considered the cases of nine individuals who received, or possibly received, legal assistance from Ms Gobbo while she was informing on them to Victoria Police.546 All nine were convicted of serious criminal offences.

On 6 February 2015, Mr Kellam produced his report, the ‘Kellam Report’, and made 16 recommendations. He recommended that the Chief Commissioner provide a copy of the report and any relevant material to the DPP, so that they could consider whether any prosecutions that may have been obtained in breach of legal professional privilege or confidentiality had resulted in a miscarriage of justice due to the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.547

The Kellam Report is discussed in further detail in Chapter 11.

The Champion Report

A copy of the Kellam Report was provided to then DPP, Mr Champion, to consider whether any relevant prosecutions may have been obtained in breach of legal professional privilege or confidentiality and resulted in miscarriages of justice.548

On 5 February 2016, the DPP produced his confidential report and concluded that he was obliged to disclose the possibility of miscarriages of justice to six of the nine individuals who were identified in the Kellam Report, all of whom Ms Gobbo had represented and the DPP had prosecuted.549

Court proceedings

In March 2016, Mr Champion wrote to then Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, enclosing a copy of the draft disclosure letter he intended to send to the six individuals named in the Kellam Report and one other individual whom the DPP had later identified as being potentially affected.550

Subsequently, Mr Champion corresponded a number of times with then Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton, Specialist Operations.551 Victoria Police was of the view that the disclosures proposed by the DPP, which would lead to Ms Gobbo being identified, would have ‘potentially catastrophic consequences for her safety and for the safety of her family’.552

In June 2016, the Chief Commissioner initiated proceedings in the Supreme Court to stop the DPP from making these disclosures.553 The hearings were held in closed court, without notice to the seven individuals, and were subject to suppression orders.

Ms Gobbo supported the Chief Commissioner’s attempts to stop her identity and role as a human source from being revealed. In November 2016, she filed her own proceeding to restrain the DPP from making the disclosures.554 The applications were heard together before Justice Ginnane between November 2016 and March 2017, over 18 hearing days. In June 2017, Justice Ginnane dismissed the proceedings, and issued a non-publication order over the proceedings.555

In July 2017, the Chief Commissioner and Ms Gobbo appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal, which also dismissed both appeals, again without notice to the seven individuals and with suppression orders.556

On 9 May 2018, the High Court granted special leave to appeal. It heard the appeals on 5 November 2018, without notice to the seven individuals and with suppression orders in place. In a unanimous decision, the seven members of the High Court revoked the grants of special leave. The High Court’s decision upheld the decisions of the Victorian courts permitting the DPP to make the disclosures to the seven individuals.557

The decision of the High Court was made available to Commonwealth and Victorian authorities but was not made public until 3 December 2018. Ms Gobbo’s name was suppressed by court order until 1 March 2019 following the resolution of further proceedings to protect her identity, as discussed in Chapter 1 of this final report.

The establishment of the Commission

On 3 December 2018, the day the High Court’s decision was made public, the Victorian Government announced that it would establish a royal commission to independently inquire into Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo as a human source.

This Commission was formally established by Letters Patent issued by the Governor of Victoria on 13 December 2018. The establishment of the Commission and the conduct of its inquiry are discussed in Chapters 1 and 3 of this final report.

Endnotes

1 The Commission sought a statement from Mr Wilson, but he declined to provide one.

2 When individuals own property in ‘tenants in common’ arrangements, each of them owns a separate share of the property.

3 Exhibit RC0020 Statement of Mr Michael Holding, 27 March 2019, 2 [13]; Transcript of Mr Michael Holding, 29 March 2019, 536.

4 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 4 February 2020, 12999.

5 Exhibit RC0020 Statement of Mr Michael Holding, 27 March 2019, 2 [13]–[14].

6 Exhibit RC0029 Day book and diary of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 3 September 1993, 4; Exhibit RC0028 Statement of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 21 March 2019, 2 [9]; Transcript of Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Trichias, 29 March 2019, 556; Transcript of Mr Michael Holding, 29 March 2019, 537–8; Transcript of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 29 March 2019, 573.

7 Exhibit RC0029 Day book and diary of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 3 September 1993, 4.

8 Transcript of Sergeant Trevor Ashton, 29 March 2019, 576; Exhibit RC0028 Statement of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 29 March 2019, 2 [11].

9 Transcript of Sergeant Trevor Ashton, 29 March 2019, 578.

10 Transcript of Sergeant Trevor Ashton, 29 March 2019, 578.

11 Exhibit RC0021 Letter of commendation to Mr Michael Holding, 8 December 1993.

12 Exhibit RC0022 Print out of charges, 7 September 1993.

13 Exhibit RC0020 Statement of Mr Michael Holding, 29 March 2019, 2 [19].

14 Exhibit RC0020 Statement of Mr Michael Holding, 29 March 2019, 3 [21].

15 Exhibit RC0020 Statement of Mr Michael Holding, 29 March 2019, 3 [23].

16 Exhibit RC0020 Statement of Mr Michael Holding, 29 March 2019, 3 [20]; Transcript of Mr Michael Holding, 29 March 2019, 541.

17 Transcript of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 4 September 2019, 5562.

18 Exhibit RC0028 Statement of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 21 March 2019, 3 [19].

19 Exhibit RC0054 Statement of Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Argall, 27 March 2019, 3 [14].

20 Exhibit RC0052 Statement of Detective Senior Sergeant Rodney Arthur, 26 March 2019, [5], [7], 2 [9].

21 Exhibit RC0052 Statement of Detective Senior Sergeant Rodney Arthur, 26 March 2019, 2 [11].

22 Exhibit RC0052 Statement of Detective Senior Sergeant Rodney Arthur, 26 March 2019, 1 [7].

23 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 4 February 2020, 13006; Exhibit RC0030 Registration of Human Source, July 1995.

24 Exhibit RC0030 Registration of Human Source, July 1995.

25 Exhibit RC0028 Statement of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 21 March 2019, 3 [23].

26 Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 316.

27 Exhibit RC0030 Registration of Human Source, July 1995; Exhibit RC0056 Application to authorise Covert Investigation Unit, 19 February 1996, 2.

28 Exhibit RC0028 Statement of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 21 March 2019, 3 [25]; Exhibit RC0025 Statement of Mr John Gibson, 27 March 2019, 2 [9].

29 Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 317.

30 Exhibit RC0028 Statement of Inspector Trevor Ashton, 21 March 2019, 3 [24]–[27], 4 [32].

31 Police used contact reports and information reports to document their discussions with human sources and the information provided by them: Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 317.

32 Exhibit RC0070 Operation Scorn Progress Report, 22 February 1996.

33 Exhibit RC0070 Operation Scorn Progress Report, 22 February 1996.

34 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 10 [3.28].

35 Exhibit RC0019 Certificate of Admission, 7 April 1997.

36 Exhibit RC0012 Affidavit Verifying Articles, 26 February 1996.

37 Exhibit RC0015 Affidavit to the Board of Examiners, 4 February 1997, 2.

38 Exhibit RC0015 Affidavit to the Board of Examiners, 4 February 1997, 2.

39 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, `Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2', Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 1, 9 [44]–[45].

40 An informant is a police officer in charge of an investigation. They have a range of responsibilities including commencing proceedings against an accused person and signing the charge sheet.

41 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, `Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2', Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 9 [46].

42 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, `Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2', Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 9 [46].

43 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, `Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2', Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 9 [47].

44 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, `Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2', Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 9–10 [47]–[48].

45 Chris Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, `Counsel Assisting submissions with respect to Terms of Reference 1 and 2', Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (26 June 2020) vol 2, 10 [50].

46 Exhibit RC0273 Court Book of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 26 November 1998, 22.

47 Exhibit RC1831 A Return of Prisoners Convicted at the Sittings of the County Court Held at Melbourne and Sentenced on 13 October 1999, 1; Exhibit RC1891 Transcript of Proceedings, R v Dragan Arnautovic (County Court of Victoria, Judge Crossley, 13 October 1999) 6; Victoria Police, ‘Criminal History Report for Dragan Arnautovic’, 10 December 2019, 3, produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

48 Exhibit RC1729 Letter from ‘Solicitor 1’ to Mr Greene, 8 December 1997, 1; Transcript of Mr Wayne Strawhorn, 30 April 2019, 1074, 1082.

49 Exhibit RC0080 Statement of Mr Wayne Strawhorn, 18 April 2019, 2–4 [11].

50 Exhibit RC0789 Transcript of conversation between Ms Gobbo and the Commission, 13 June 2019, 46; Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 4 February 2020, 13028–9.

51 Exhibit RC0083 Fax from the OPP to Mr Wayne Strawhorn enclosing letter from ‘Solicitor 1’, 17 December 1997, 4–9.

52 Exhibit RC0095 Ms Nicola Gobbo diary, 2 February 1998.

53 Exhibit RC0095 Ms Nicola Gobbo diary, 2 February 1998.

54 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 4 February 2020, 13009–12.

55 Exhibit RC0793 Letter from Australian Federal Police lawyers to Commission, 22 November 2019.

56 Exhibit RC0063 Mr Jeff Pope diary, 27 April 1999; Exhibit RC0064 Statement of Mr ‘Kruger’, 28 March 2019, 4 [24].

57 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 14 [3.53].

58 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 13 [3.52].

59 Transcript of Unnamed, 16 April 2019, 990.

60 Exhibit RC0064 Statement of Officer ‘Kruger’, 26 March 2019, 5 [28]; Exhibit RC0057 Statement of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 1 April 2019, 3 [11].

61 Exhibit RC0057 Statement of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 1 April 2019, 3 [11].

62 Exhibit RC0033 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 12 May 1999.

63 Exhibit RC0034 Informer Registration Application, 13 May 1998; Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 334.

64 Exhibit RC0035 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 28 May 1999.

65 Exhibit RC0034 Informer Registration Application, 13 May 1998.

66 Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 334.

67 Exhibit RC0032 Statement of Gavan Segrave, 22 March 2019, 5 [14]–[15].

68 Exhibit RC0037 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 28 May 1999; Exhibit RC0040 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 14 June 1999; Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 339.

69 Exhibit RC0038 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 28 May 1998.

70 Exhibit RC0038 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 28 May 1998.

71 Exhibit RC1412 Statement of ‘Member 1’, 1 May 2019, 3 [8].

72 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 11 April 2019, 889–90.

73 Exhibit RC0063 Mr Jeff Pope diary, 26 May 1999 – 7 June 1999, 5–6; Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 338.

74 Exhibit RC0039 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 14 June 1999; Exhibit RC0041 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 14 June 1999.

75 Exhibit RC0042 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 14 June 1999; Exhibit RC0043 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 14 June 1999.

76 Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 339.

77 Exhibit RC0046 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 15 June 1999; Transcript of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 2 April 2019, 779–80.

78 Transcript of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 2 April 2019, 780.

79 Exhibit RC0047 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 27 June 1999. If a restraining order is placed over a property, it will prevent the owner from selling that property.

80 Transcript of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 2 April 2019, 781–2.

81 Transcript of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 2 April 2019, 781–2.

82 Exhibit RC0049 Asset Recovery Unit Information Report, 5 October 1999.

83 Exhibit RC0057 Statement of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 1 April 2019, 5 [23]; Transcript of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 2 April 2019, 787.

84 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2100.

85 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2106–7.

86 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2106.

87 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2106–7.

88 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 11 April 2019, 948.

89 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 11 April 2019, 949.

90 Transcript of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 27 March 2019, 341.

91 Exhibit RC0050 Recommendation to reclassify Ms Nicola Gobbo inactive, 3 January 2000.

92 The Dedicated Source Unit changed its name to the Source Development Unit on 29 May 2006: Victoria Police, ‘Dedicated Source Unit Monthly Report’, May 2006, 1, produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

93 Exhibit RC0251 Statement of Mr Philip Swindells, 6 May 2019, 6 [32].

94 Exhibit RC0310 Statement of Mr Gavan Ryan, 13 June 2019, 3 [16].

95 Exhibit RC0310 Statement of Mr Gavan Ryan, 13 June 2019, 4 [17].

96 Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 6 [28].

97 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 16 [3.69].

98 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, [6].

99 Transcript of Commander Stuart Bateson, 2 July 2019, 3341, 3365.

100 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2113.

101 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2114–16.

102 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2117–18, 2121.

103 Transcript of Mr Stephen Campbell, 21 May 2019, 2121.

104 Transcript of ‘Person 12’, 22 May 2019, 2156–7.

105 Exhibit RC0108 Review of the Victoria Police Drug Squad—Steering Committee Endorsed Final Report, November 2001.

106 Exhibit RC0920 Statement of Ms Christine Nixon, 30 October 2019, 6–7 [34]; Transcript of Ms Christine Nixon, 18 December 2019, 11600.

107 Transcript of Mr Peter De Santo, 9 May 2019, 1495.

108 Transcript of Mr Peter De Santo, 10 May 2019, 1543.

109 Transcript of Mr Peter De Santo, 10 May 2019, 1532.

110 Exhibit RC0154 Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 1–2 [15].

111 Exhibit RC0221 Mr Paul Dale Diary, 13 November 2002.

112 Exhibit RC0154 Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 4 [44]; Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 17 June 2019, 2371.

113 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 17 June 2019, 2372.

114 Exhibit RC0154 Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 1–2 [15].

115 Exhibit RC0154 Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 3 [36].

116 Exhibit RC0789 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 13 June 2019, 13–14.

117 Exhibit RC0154 Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 3 [38]; Exhibit RC0789 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 13 June 2019, 16–17.

118 Exhibit RC0232 Summary of Evidence OPP v Paul Dale, undated, 2–3.

119 Exhibit RC0232 Summary of Evidence OPP v Paul Dale, undated, 3.

120 Exhibit RC0154 Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 2 [18].

121 Transcript of Mr Peter De Santo, 10 May 2019, 1563; Exhibit RC0789b Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 13 June 2019, 37; Exhibit RC0105 Information Report IR088, 1 July 2004.

122 Exhibit RC0105 Information Report IR088, 1 July 2004.

123 Transcript of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 17 May 2019, 1985.

124 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 2 [13].

125 Transcript of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 17 May 2019, 1987.

126 Exhibit RC0232 Summary of Evidence OPP v Paul Dale, undated, 44; Transcript of Mr Peter De Santo, 10 May 2019, 1566.

127 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 3 [16]–[17].

128 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 3 [16]–[17].

129 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 3 [16]–[17].

130 Exhibit RC0097 Statement of Mr Peter De Santo, 7 May 2019, 11.

131 Transcript of Mr Peter De Santo, 10 May 2019, 1582–3.

132 Exhibit RC0131 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 11 August 2004, 2.

133 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 3 [20].

134 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 4 [22].

135 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 4 [23].

136 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 4 [24].

137 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 4 [26].

138 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 5 [31].

139 Exhibit RC0129 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 14 May 2019, 5 [31].

140 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 17 June 2019, 2375.

141 Exhibit RC0154b Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 6 [80].

142 Exhibit RC0154b Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 5 [63].

143 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 21 June 2019, 2740.

144 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 21 June 2019, 2771.

145 Exhibit RC0154b Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 5 [72].

146 Exhibit RC0154b Statement of Mr Paul Dale, 20 May 2019, 5 [73].

147 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 21 June 2019, 2741.

148 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 21 June 2019, 2742.

149 Ms Gobbo recorded notes of appearances and interviews with her clients in notebooks known as ‘court books’.

150 Exhibit RC0240 Ms Nicola Gobbo Court Book, 4 December 2003.

151 Exhibit RC1359 Prisoners visited by Ms Nicola Gobbo, 7 December 2003, 15.

152 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 21 June 2019, 2743.

153 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 21 June 2019, 2745.

154 Transcript of Mr Paul Dale, 21 June 2019, 2745–6.

155 Exhibit RC0241 Ms Nicola Gobbo Court Book, 14 December 2003.

156 Exhibit RC0241 Ms Nicola Gobbo Court Book, 14 December 2003.

157 Exhibit RC0131 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 11 August 2004, 4.

158 Exhibit RC0131 Statement of Mr Andrew Murray Gregor, 11 August 2004, 4.

159 Transcript of Mr Charlie Bezzina, 14 May 2019, 1638.

160 Exhibit RC0097 Statement of Mr Peter De Santo, 7 May 2019, 3 [16].

161 Exhibit RC0097 Statement of Mr Peter De Santo, 7 May 2019, 3 [16].

162 Exhibit RC0105 Information Report IR088, 1 July 2004.

163 Known as IR 44: Exhibit RC0104b Transcript of OPI proceedings interview between Mr Charlie Bezzina, Mr Cameron Davey and Ms Nicola Gobbo, 1 July 2004, 40–5.

164 Exhibit RC0104b Transcript of OPI proceedings interview between Mr Charlie Bezzina, Mr Cameron Davey and Ms Nicola Gobbo, 1 July 2004, 57.

165 Exhibit RC0102a Statement of Charlie Bezzina, 17 April 2019, 2 [9].

166 Transcript of Mr Charlie Bezzina, 14 May 2019, 1643.

167 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (017), 2 February 2006, 142; Exhibit RC0282 Transcript of conversation between Officer ‘Peter Smith’, Officer ‘Malachite’ and Ms Gobbo, 2 February 2006, 38.

168 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, 2 [7]; Exhibit RC1898 OPP Prism Database concerning appearances by Ms Nicola Gobbo, 21 July 2003, 37.

169 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, 2 [8]; Exhibit RC1798 Telephone log of Mr Thomas, 21 January 2020, 19–28; Exhibit RC0251 Statement of Mr Philip Swindells, 6 May 2019, 6 [30]; Exhibit RC0787 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 20 March 2019, 195–6.

170 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, 2 [8].

171 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 17 [3.78]; Exhibit RC1898 OPP Prism Database concerning appearances by Ms Nicola Gobbo, 22 September 2003, 37.

172 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, 2 [9]; Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 16–17 [3.75].

173 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 16–17 [3.75].

174 Transcript of Mr Philip Swindells, 27 June 2019, 3072.

175 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, 3 [10]–[11]; Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 17 [3.79].

176 Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 9 [51].

177 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13292.

178 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13292.

179 Transcript of Mr Simon Overland, 16 December 2019, 11334–5.

180 Transcript of Mr Philip Swindells, 27 June 2019, 3034.

181 Transcript of Mr Dannye Moloney, 20 February 2020, 14558; Exhibit RC1433 Letter from Nicola Gobbo to Stephen Fontana, 30 June 2015, 4.

182 Exhibit RC1433 Letter from Nicola Gobbo to Stephen Fontana, 30 June 2015, 4.

183 Transcript of Commander Stuart Bateson, 2 July 2019, 3388.

184 Transcript of Commander Stuart Bateson, 2 July 2019, 3388.

185 See Exhibit RC0262 Statement of Acting Inspector Mark Hatt, 17 June 2019, 3 [19]; Transcript of Commander Stuart Bateson, 2 July 2019, 3388.

186 Exhibit RC0273 Ms Nicola Gobbo Court Book, 11 July 2004, 65.

187 See Exhibit RC0262 Statement of Acting Inspector Mark Hatt, 17 June 2019, 3 [19]; Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 10 [57]; Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology, undated, 9.

188 Transcript of Commander Stuart Bateson, 2 July 2019, 3388. Mr McGrath's statement was signed on 13 July 2004: Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology, undated, 9.

189 Exhibit RC0272 Commander Stuart Bateson day book, 10 July 2004, 1; Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology prepared by Commander Stuart Bateson, 11 July 2004, 9.

190 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13271.

191 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13270; Transcript of Mr Gavan Ryan, 15 August 2019, 4649.

192 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13270.

193 Exhibit RC0267 Transcript of meeting between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Officer ‘Sandy White’ and Officer ‘Peter Smith’, 16 September 2005, 120; Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, [12].

194 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 12, [62].

195 Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 11 [68].

196 Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 11 [68].

197 Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 11 [68].

198 Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 11–12 [69]; Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology, undated, 18.

199 Transcript of Commander Stuart Bateson, 2 July 2019, 3340.

200 Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology, undated, 18–24.

201 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13301.

202 Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology, undated, 18–24; Exhibit RC0272 Commander Stuart Bateson diary, 29 June 2005, 33.

203 Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology, undated, 20; Exhibit RC0272 Mr Stuart Bateson diary, 22 May 2005, 19.

204 Exhibit RC0252 Purana Chronology, undated, 23.

205 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13295–7.

206 Exhibit RC0464 Statement of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 14 June 2019, 9 [40]; Transcript of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 3 September, 5475.

207 Exhibit RC0465 Mr James O’Brien diary, 10 August 2004.

208 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3643–5; Transcript of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 4 September 2019, 5485.

209 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3643.

210 Exhibit RC1162 Major Drug Investigation Division profile of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 26 August 2004, 4.

211 Exhibit RC0560d Inspector Dale Flynn diary, 15 August 2005, 4.

212 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [18]–[20]; Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13303.

213 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 2 [12].

214 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [14].

215 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [20]; Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3250.

216 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [15].

217 Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3250–1.

218 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [18].

219 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [20]; Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3252–3.

220 Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3252.

221 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [20].

222 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [20]; Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3253.

223 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [20]; Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3253.

224 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 3 [21]; Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3253.

225 Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3254.

226 Transcript of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 28 June 2019, 3254.

227 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 4–5 [27]–[29].

228 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 4–5 [27]–[29], 5 [30]–[32].

229 Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 5 [34]; Exhibit RC0933 Mr James O’Brien diary, 31 August 2005, 92.

230 Exhibit RC0464 Statement of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 14 June 2019, 10 [45].

231 Exhibit RC0464 Statement of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 14 June 2019, 10–11 [46].

232 Transcript of Ms Christine Nixon, 18 December 2019, 11576.

233 The Dedicated Source Unit changed its name to the Source Development Unit on 29 May 2006: Victoria Police, ‘Dedicated Source Unit Monthly Report’, May 2006, produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce, 1.

234 Exhibit RC0276 Review & Develop Best Practice Human Source Management Policy, 2004, 15.

235 Exhibit RC0278 Report on the Findings of Dedicated Source Unit Pilot, 1 November 2004 – 30 April 2005, 44.

236 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 46 [5.10]; Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 56, 4.

237 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 34, 11 [40].

238 Exhibit RC0275b Statement of Officer ‘Sandy White’, undated, 22 [89], 23 [94]–[95].

239 Exhibit RC0275b Statement of Officer ‘Sandy White’, undated, 23 [95].

240 Transcript of Officer ‘Black’, 14 March 2019, 46.

241 Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 8 September 2005, 1.

242 Exhibit RC1381 Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe diary, 8 September 2005; Exhibit RC0266 Statement of Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, 25 June 2019, 6 [41].

243 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 1.

244 Exhibit RC0282 Transcript of meeting between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Officer ‘Sandy White’ and Officer ‘Peter Smith’, 16 September 2005, 12.

245 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 1.

246 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 1.

247 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 2.

248 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 1 August 2019, 3732; Exhibit RC1433 Letter from Nicola Gobbo to Stephen Fontana, 30 June 2015, 4.

249 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 3.

250 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 1–6.

251 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 2; Exhibit RC0267 Transcript of meeting between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Officer ‘Sandy White’ and Officer ‘Peter Smith’, 16 September 2005, 24.

252 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 2.

253 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (001), 16 September 2005, 6.

254 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13324.

255 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13324–5.

256 Exhibit RC0622 Statement of Officer ‘Black’, 5 June 2019, 26 [60].

257 Exhibit RC0622 Statement of Officer ‘Black’, 5 June 2019, 13–14 [49].

258 Exhibit RC0285 Risk Assessment Relating to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 November 2005, 1.

259 Exhibit RC0285 Risk Assessment Relating to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 November 2005, 6.

260 Exhibit RC0285 Risk Assessment Relating to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 November 2005, 4.

261 Exhibit RC0285 Risk Assessment Relating to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 November 2005, 6.

262 Exhibit RC0285 Risk Assessment Relating to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 November 2005, 7.

263 Exhibit RC0285 Risk Assessment Relating to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 November 2005, 7.

264 Exhibit RC0275 Statement of Officer ‘Sandy White’, undated, 19 [76].

265 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6298; Exhibit RC0275 Statement of Officer ‘Sandy White’, undated, 19 [76].

266 Exhibit RC0275 Statement of Officer ‘Sandy White’, undated, 19 [77].

267 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6298.

268 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6298.

269 Transcript of Officer ‘Peter Smith’, 11 September 2019, 6065.

270 Transcript of Officer ‘Peter Smith’, 11 September 2019, 6065.

271 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6298.

272 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6298.

273 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13329.

274 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3632.

275 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 5 February 2020, 13186.

276 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 5 February 2020, 13186; Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 7 February 2020, 13425.

277 These are in the Loricated database, which was established pursuant to one of the recommendations of the Comrie Review. This database reconstructed Ms Gobbo’s human source file.

278 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3603, 3643.

279 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 11 February 2020, 13680.

280 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3603.

281 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3614. This was echoed by Officer ‘Black’: Transcript of Officer ‘Black’, 23 October 2019, 8126.

282 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 1 August 2019, 3735.

283 See, eg, the tasking in relation to Mr Karam: Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (015), 12 January 2006, 119.

284 Exhibit RC0282 Transcript of conversation with Ms Gobbo, Officer ‘Sandy White’ and Officer ‘Peter Smith’, 6 February 2006, 146.

285 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 13 December 2019, 11232; Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 11 February 2020, 13804; Transcript of Detective Senior Constable Liza Burrows, 15 May 2019, 1855.

286 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 13 December 2019, 11232; Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 11 February 2020, 13804; Transcript of Detective Senior Constable Liza Burrows, 15 May 2019, 1855.

287 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (012), 13 December 2005, 85; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (004), 1 October 2005, 24; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (002), 21 September 2005, 9.

288 Transcript of Mr ‘Cooper’, 31 October 2019, 8686–7. See also Transcript of Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13331.

289 Transcript of Mr ‘Cooper’, 31 October 2019, 8686–7. See also Transcript of Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13331.

290 Transcript of Mr ‘Cooper’, 31 October 2019, 8687.

291 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13330–1.

292 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 21 August 2019, 5066.

293 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (015), 3 January 2006, 110; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (015), 4 January 2006, 110; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (017), 6 February 2006, 143–4.

294 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (023), 16 March 2006, 190.

295 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (028), 18 April 2006, 250.

296 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (017) 2 February 2006, 142; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (019), 22 February 2006, 161; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (028), 18 April 2006, 250.

297 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 6 February 2020, 13333; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (028), 18 April 2006, 250; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (028), 18 April 2006, 250.

298 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (028), 22 April 2006, 259–60.

299 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 5 August 2019, 3891.

300 Transcript of Inspector Dale Flynn, 30 September 2019, 6827.

301 R v Mokbel [2012] VSC 86, [74]; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (003), 26 September 2005, 14; Exhibit RC1922 Clause 1—list of persons for whom informant 3838 acted as legal representative in proceedings prosecuted by the CDPP between 1 January 1995 and 12 January 2009, undated.

302 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [17].

303 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (014), 18 April 2008, 187.

304 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (015), 12 January 2006, 117.

305 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (019), 18 February 2006, 157; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (020), 28 February 2006, 173.

306 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (019), 23 February 2006, 164.

307 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (023), 17 March 2006, 194.

308 R v Mokbel [2006] VSC 119, [7].

309 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (082), 6 June 2007, 883; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (082), 10 June 2007, 886; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (083), 15 June 2007, 896.

310 R v A Mokbel (sentence) [2012] VSC 255.

311 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (082), 5 June 2007, 876–7; Victoria Police, ‘Audio Summary of Meeting 38’, 5 June 2007, 2 [13]–[14], produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

312 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (082), 5 June 2007, 876.

313 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (082), 5 June 2007, 876–7; Victoria Police, ‘Audio Summary of Meeting 38’, 5 June 2007, 2 [13]–[14], produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

314 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (082), 5 June 2007, 877; Victoria Police, ‘Audio Summary of Meeting 38’, 5 June 2007, 2 [13]–[14], produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

315 Supreme Court of Victoria, ‘Application for Leave to Appeal Against Conviction’, R v Karam, 22 July 2016, produced by the Supreme Court of Victoria in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

316 Exhibit RC0264 Statement of Detective Senior Sergeant Nigel L’Estrange, 11 June 2019, 2 [10].

317 Transcript of Commander Stuart Bateson, 20 November 2019, 9569–70; Transcript of Mr Andrew Allen, 26 June 2019, 2975.

318 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (028), 23 April 2006, 261; Exhibit RC0282 Transcript of meeting between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Officer ‘Sandy White’, Officer ‘Peter Smith’, Officer ‘Green’, 20 April 2006, 163; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (031), 5 May 2006, 287; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (020), 24 February 2006, 165.

319 Exhibit RC0269 Statement of Commander Stuart Bateson, 7 May 2019, 15 [89]–[92].

320 Exhibit RC1746 OPP Memorandum from Mr David Bosso to Mr John Champion SC Re: Thomas, 30 August 2012, 2.

321 See, eg, Exhibit RC0650 Statement of Mr ‘Thomas’ (extract), 19 July 2006, 110; Exhibit RC0651 Statement of Mr ‘Thomas’, 2 May 2008 (extract); Exhibit RC0330 Statement of Mr ‘Thomas’, 19 July 2006.

322 Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 7 February 2020, 13469.

323 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 512–3 [8] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA).

324 Orman v The Queen (2019) 59 VR 511, 512–3 [8] (Maxwell P, Niall and Emerton JJA).

325 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (016), 23 January 2006, 129; Exhibit RC0343 Request for Informer Reward, Infringement Notices, 3 February 2006, 6–7.

326 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (023), 17 March 2006, 194.

327 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (023), 17 March 2006, 194.

328 Exhibit RC0343 Request for Informer Reward signed by Handler, Controller, Officer in Charge and Local Informant Registrar, 11 April 2006, 6–7.

329 Exhibit RC0343 Request for Informer Reward, signed 28 March 2006, 11 April 2006, 2.

330 Exhibit RC0292 Officer ‘Sandy White’ diary, 11 April 2006, 19; Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 11 April 2006, 26. The Local Informer Registrar was responsible for maintaining, managing, and auditing the local informer registration system. Mr Porter held the positions of Local Informer Registrar, and the higher rank of Central Informer Registrar when he first joined the SDU: Transcript of Mr Mark Porter, 18 September 2019, 6491.

331 Exhibit RC0818d Letter from Paul Walshe to Assistant Commissioner Noel Ashby, 11 May 2006, 81; Transcript of Mr John (Jack) Blayney, 3 December 2019, 10216.

332 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (030), 27 April 2006, 274; Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 27 April 2006, 29.

333 Exhibit RC0818 Letter from Mr Paul Walshe to Mr Noel Ashby, 11 May 2006, 81–4.

334 Transcript of Mr Anthony Biggin, 9 October 2019, 7518, 7528; Exhibit RC0292 Officer ‘Sandy White’ diary, 19 April 2006, 29.

335 Transcript of Mr Anthony Biggin, 9 October 2019, 7523–4.

336 Exhibit RC0286 Informer Registration, Part C Risk Assessment, 20–26 April 2006.

337 Exhibit RC0286 Informer Registration, Part C Risk Assessment, 20–26 April 2006.

338 Exhibit RC0285b Risk Assessment Relating to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 20 April 2006, 3.

339 Transcript of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 9 October 2019, 7527.

340 Exhibit RC0277 Issue cover sheet, Audit conducted of human source 21803838 records, 28 April 2006.

341 Exhibit RC0578 Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin diary, 23 April 2006, 21.

342 Exhibit RC0277 Issue cover sheet, Audit conducted of human source 21803838 records, 28 April 2006.

343 Exhibit RC0277 Issue cover sheet, Audit conducted of human source 21803838 records, 28 April 2006, 3.

344 Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 17 May 2006, 32; Exhibit RC0292 Officer ‘Sandy White’ diary, 17 May 2006, 106; Exhibit RC0486 Officer ‘Peter Smith’ diary, 17 May 2006, 163.

345 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 8 August 2019, 4167.

346 Exhibit RC0591 Diary of Officer ‘Black’, 24 July 2006. 144.

347 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3619.

348 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3620.

349 See Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958.

350 Exhibit RC0826 Operation Khadi Final Report, 23 November 2006, 1–2.

351 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (024), 24 March 2006, 207.

352 Exhibit RC1380 Mr Philip Swindells diary, 24 July 2006, 3.

353 Subpoenas are documents issued by the court at the request of a party to litigation, compelling another party to produce documents or give evidence.

354 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (039), 24 July 2006, 366–7; Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 24 July 2006, 41–2; Exhibit RC0292 Officer ‘Sandy White’ diary, 24 July 2006, 5, 10; Exhibit RC0591 Diary Entry of Officer ‘Black’, 24 July 2006, 2.

355 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (039), 24 July 2006, 366.

356 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (039), 28 July 2006, 372.

357 Exhibit RC0312 Mr Gavan Ryan diary, 11 December 2006, 141.

358 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6293–4.

359 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6294.

360 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6294.

361 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6294.

362 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6460; Exhibit RC0305 Officer ‘Sandy White’ diary, 26 July 2007, 11.

363 A Monthly Source Review occurred on 5 March 2007.

364 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 31 July 2019, 3621.

365 Exhibit RC0464b Statement of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 14 June 2019, 52 [274].

366 Exhibit RC0464b Statement of Mr James (Jim) O’Brien, 14 June 2019, 52 [274].

367 Exhibit RC0305 Officer ‘Sandy White’ diary, 4 May 2007, 12.

368 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6293.

369 Transcript of Officer ‘Fox’, 13 September 2019, 6293; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (039), 16 June 2008, 904.

370 Exhibit RC0577d Statement of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 25 July 2019, 20 [100]; Transcript of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 10 October 2019, 7621; Exhibit RC0284 SML, 28 February 2007, 137.

371 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (016), 24 April 2008, 217.

372 Exhibit RC0977b Statement of Mr Robert Richter, 25 November 2019, 1 [3].

373 Exhibit RC0977b Statement of Mr Robert Richter, 25 November 2019, 1 [4].

374 Transcript of Mr Stephen (Steve) Waddell, 13 February 2020, 14043.

375 Exhibit RC856b Statement of Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, 30 August 2019, 7 [65].

376 Exhibit RC0295 Running Sheet for Operation ‘CLONK’/‘BRIARS’, 2 October 2010, 1; Exhibit RC0874 Mr Luke Cornelius Chronology of Briars contacts with Messrs Linnell and Ashby, 3 October 2007.

377 Exhibit RC0915 Statement of Mr Simon Overland, 19 September 2019, 8 [39].

378 Exhibit RC0295 Running Sheet for Operation ‘CLONK’/‘BRIARS’, 2 October 2010, 5.

379 Exhibit RC0310b(i) Statement of Gavan Ryan, 13 June 2019, [72].

380 Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 20 July 2007, 118.

381 Exhibit RC0337b Diary of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 6 August 2007.

382 Exhibit RC0337b Diary of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 6 August 2007.

383 Exhibit RC0915 Statement of Mr Simon Overland, 19 September 2019, 25 [133]; Exhibit RC337b Diary Extracts of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 5 August 2007, 1.

384 Exhibit RC0337b Diary of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 6 August 2007.

385 Transcript of Mr Simon Overland, 19 December 2019, 11780–2.

386 Transcript of Mr Stephen Waddell, 13 February 2020, 14017.

387 Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 25 May 2007, 111; Transcript of Mr Stephen Waddell, 13 February 2020, 14032.

388 Exhibit RC0260 Unsigned statement of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 21 May 2009.

389 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen Waddell, 17 September 2019, [42].

390 Exhibit RC0305 Officer ‘Sandy White’ diary, 10 September 2007, 12.

391 Exhibit RC0825b Statement of Mr Rodney Wilson, 19 November 2019, 6 [32]; Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 6 September 2007, 123; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (101), 19 September 2007, 1233–4.

392 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (107), 29 October 2007, 1325–6.

393 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (107), 29 October 2007, 1325–6.

394 Exhibit RC1267 Email from Mr David Waters to Ms Nicola Gobbo with attached statement, 7 November 2007.

395 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (109), 7 November 2007, 1367–8; Transcript of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 11 February 2020, 13737.

396 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen (Steve) Waddell, 17 September 2019, 4 [19].

397 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen (Steve) Waddell, 17 September 2019, 6–7 [33]–[34].

398 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (067), 19 February 2007, 644; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (067), 20 February 2007, 645–6; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (067), 21 February 2007, 648; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (067), 22 February 2007, 650; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (067), 23 February 2007, 653–4; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (068), 27 February 2007, 661; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (068), 1 March 2007, 664; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (069), 7 March 2007, 679; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (070), 13 March 2007, 693; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (070), 14 March 2007, 707; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (075), 16 April 2007, 793; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (076), 27 April 2008, 811–12; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (077), 29 April 2007, 817; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (078), 7 May 2007, 828; Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (080), 25 June 2007, 935; Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 2 May 2007, 109; Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 6 May 2007, 109; Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 9 May 2007, 110.

399 Exhibit RC0247b Statement of Mr Carl Williams, undated, 8–9.

400 Exhibit RC0898 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius, 20 September 2019, 7 [45].

401 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (082), 9 May 2007, 830–1.

402 Exhibit RC0326 Statement of Detective Sergeant Solon (Sol) Solomon, 15 January 2019, 5.

403 Exhibit RC0329 Statement of Mr Cameron Davey, 13 May 2019, 4 [14]; Exhibit RC0326 Statement of Detective Sergeant Solon (Sol) Solomon, 15 January 2019.

404 Exhibit RC0284 SML2958, 26 February 2008, 6.

405 Exhibit RC0882 Officer ‘Wolf’ diary, 28 February 2008, 27; Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (006), 28 February 2008, 68.

406 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (007), 4 March 2008, 76.

407 Exhibit RC0313 Bundle of documents regarding Ms Nicola Gobbo’s evidence at Office of Police Integrity Hearing, 11 July 2007, 9–17.

408 Exhibit RC0318 Transcript of examination of Ms Nicola Gobbo, OPI hearing, 19 July 2007.

409 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (090), 17 July 2007, 1024–7.

410 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (090), 17 July 2007, 1025.

411 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (091), 18 July 2007, 1031.

412 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (091), 18 July 2007, 1031.

413 Police Regulation Act 1958 (Vic) s 86KA.

414 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (091), 18 July 2007, 1031.

415 Exhibit RC0318 Transcript of examination of Ms Nicola Gobbo, OPI hearing, 19 July 2007.

416 Exhibit RC0310 Statement of Mr Gavan Ryan, 13 June 2019, 13 [82]; Exhibit RC0312 Mr Gavan Ryan diary, 19 July 2007, 131.

417 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (091), 19 July 2007, 1034, 1036.

418 Exhibit RC0281 ICR3838 (094), 14 August 2007, 1087.

419 Exhibit RC0310 Statement of Mr Gavan Ryan, 13 June 2019, 14 [86]; Exhibit RC0312 Mr Gavan Ryan diary, 17 August 2007, 144.

420 Exhibit RC0320 Transcript of examination of Ms Nicola Gobbo, OPI hearing, 17 July 2007, 2.

421 Exhibit RC0320 Transcript of examination of Ms Nicola Gobbo, OPI hearing, 17 July 2007, 4–5.

422 Exhibit RC0320 Transcript of examination of Ms Nicola Gobbo, OPI hearing, 17 July 2007, 5.

423 Exhibit RC0310 Statement of Mr Gavan Ryan, 13 June 2019, 14 [86].

424 Exhibit RC0320 Transcript of examination of Ms Nicola Gobbo, OPI hearing, 17 July 2007, 7.

425 Exhibit RC0284 SML3838, 17 July 2007, 118; Exhibit RC0989 Statement of Mr Gerald Fitzgerald, 20 December 2019; Exhibit RC0937 Statement of Mr Garry Livermore, 28 October 2019.

426 Exhibit RC0284 SML2958, 17 November 2008, 55.

427 Exhibit RC0284 SML2958, 17 November 2008, 56–7.

428 Exhibit RC0284 SML2958, 17 November 2008, 55.

429 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (047), 3 December 2008, 749.

430 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (048), 5 December 2008, 757.

431 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (048), 5 December 2008, 757.

432 Exhibit RC1305 Statement of Mr Shane O’Connell, 5 December 2019, 7 [44]; Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (047), 30 November 2008, 722.

433 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (047), 3 December 2008, 749.

434 Exhibit RC1305 Statement of Mr Shane O’Connell, 5 December 2019, 10 [58].

435 Exhibit RC0284 SML2958, 11 December 2008, 58.

436 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (048), 11 December 2008, 765–6; Exhibit RC0284 SML2958, 11 December 2008, 59.

437 Transcript of Mr Simon Overland, 19 December 2019, 11820–3.

438 Transcript of Mr Dannye Moloney, 20 February 2020, 14594–5.

439 Exhibit RC0915 Statement of Mr Simon Overland, 19 September 2019, 35 [174].

440 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 15 August 2019, 4669; Transcript of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 9 September 2019, 7587.

441 Transcript of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 9 September 2019, 7587.

442 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 19 August 2019, 4868–9.

443 Exhibit RC0578 Diary Entry of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 5 December 2003, 691; Exhibit RC0578 Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin diary summary, 5 December 2008, 22; Exhibit RC0622 Statement of Officer ‘Black’, 5 June 2019, 41–5 [112]; Exhibit RC0622 Statement of Officer ‘Black’, 5 June 2019, 41–5 [112]; Transcript of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 10 October 2019, 7628, 7631; Transcript of Mr Simon Overland, 19 December 2019, 11825.

444 Transcript of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 19 August 2019, 4860–2.

445 Exhibit RC0275d Statement of Officer ‘Sandy White’, 22 May 2019, 30. See also Exhibit RC0915 Statement of Simon Overland, 19 September 2019, [178].

446 Exhibit RC0915 Statement of Mr Simon Overland, 19 September 2019, [174].

447 Exhibit RC0591 Officer ‘Black’ diary, 30 December 2008, 617.

448 Exhibit RC0578 Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin diary, 30 December 2008, 700.

449 Transcript of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 10 October 2019, 7635–8.

450 Transcript of Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, 10 October 2019, 7636.

451 Exhibit RC0518 Covert Support Division briefing note with audit trail, including SWOT analysis, 530.

452 Exhibit RC0518 Covert Support Division briefing note with audit trail, including SWOT analysis, 533.

453 Exhibit RC0518 Covert Support Division briefing note with audit trail, including SWOT analysis.

454 Exhibit RC1084 Mr Simon Overland Petra Taskforce Folder 2, 2 January 2009, 530.

455 Transcript of Mr Shane O’Connell, 21 February 2020, 14780; Exhibit RC0362 Statement of Detective Sergeant Solon (Sol) Solomon, 15 January 2019, 8.

456 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (051), 2 January 2009, 802.

457 Exhibit RC0229 Statement of Ms Nicola Gobbo, 7 January 2009; Transcript of Mr Shane O’Connell, 21 February 2020, 14786–7.

458 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (053), 12 January 2009, 824.

459 Exhibit RC0520 Human Source Deactivation Form, 13 January 2009, 24–5.

460 Exhibit RC0584 Email chain involving Mr Anthony (Tony) Biggin, Officer ‘Black’, Officer ‘Richards’, Mr Andrew Glow and Officer ‘Sandy White’, 8 January 2009.

461 Exhibit RC0281 ICR2958 (053), 12 January 2009, 827.

462 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen Waddell, 17 September 2019, 6 [31].

463 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen Waddell, 17 September 2019, 6 [31]; Exhibit RC1006 Petra Taskforce Weekly Update with handwritten notes of Mr Luke Cornelius, 16 March 2009, 26–33.

464 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen Waddell, 17 September 2019, 6 [33].

465 Exhibit RC1206 Statement of Mr Ronald (Ron) Iddles, 3 June 2019, [7]–[9].

466 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen Waddell, 17 September 2019, 8 [41].

467 Exhibit RC1196 Statement of Mr Stephen Waddell, 17 September 2019, 8 [41]; Exhibit RC1206b Statement of Mr Ron Iddles, 4 [21]; Transcript of Mr Stephen Waddell, 13 February 2020, 14055–6; Transcript of Mr Ronald (Ron) Iddles, 14 February 2020, 14150–1.

468 Exhibit RC1206 Statement of Ronald (Ron) Iddles, 3 June 2019, 3–4 [17]–[18].

469 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Finlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, [3.22].

470 Exhibit RC1718 Letter from Mr Kieran Walshe to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 4 June 2009; Exhibit RC1033b Letter to Witness F from Mr Kieran Walshe, 26 August 2009.

471 Exhibit RC0947 Letter to Mr Simon Overland from Ms Nicola Gobbo, 7 September 2009.

472 Exhibit RC1037 Letter from Mr Kieran Walshe to Ms Nicola Gobbo, 14 September 2009.

473 Exhibit RC0948 Letter from Ms Nicola Gobbo to Mr Simon Overland, 28 September 2009.

474 Exhibit RC0949 Letter from Ms Nicola Gobbo to Mr Simon Overland, 21 January 2010.

475 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, 18 [3.48]; Exhibit RC1894 Subpoena issued on behalf of Mr Paul Dale to Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, 27 January 2010.

476 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, [3.51].

477 Exhibit RC1728 Letter from Piper Alderman to VGSO, 8 February 2010.

478 Informer privilege is a ground—reason—that police can use to refuse to hand over documents in answer to a subpoena. The basis of this ground is that the identity of an informer should not be revealed.

479 Exhibit RC1728 Letter from Piper Alderman to VGSO, 8 February 2010.

480 Exhibit RC1725 Letter from OPP to Piper Alderman contained on file of Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius, 26 February 2010.

481 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, 19 [3.51]; Victoria Police, ‘Email from Isabel Parsons to Findlay (Fin) McRae’, 26 February 2010, produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce; Exhibit RC1726 Letter from Piper Alderman to VGSO, 26 February 2010.

482 Exhibit RC1351 Letter to Mr Greg Elms from Mr Tony Hargreaves, 1 March 2010.

483 Exhibit RC1355 Email from Ron Gipp to Phillip Dodgson, 10 March 2010.

484 Exhibit RC1305 Statement of Mr Shane O’Connell, 5 December 2019, 32 [204]–[206].

485 Exhibit RC1189 Statement of Steve Smith, undated, 13 [75]; Exhibit RC1696 Email from Steve Smith to Luke Cornelius and Emmett Dunne, 6 May 2010.

486 Exhibit RC1696 Email from Steve Smith to Luke Cornelius and Emmett Dunne, 6 May 2010.

487 Exhibit RC0950 Statement of Claim, Nicola Gobbo v State of Victoria & Ors, 29 April 2010.

488 Exhibit RC1085 Letter of Advice from Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office to Superintendent Lardner, 21 May 2010, 21 May 2010, 4 [12]–[13]; Exhibit RC0950 Statement of Claim, Nicola Gobbo v State of Victoria & Ors, 29 April 2010.

489 Exhibit RC1828 Terms of Settlement signed by Gobbo and Ryan, 11 August 2010.

490 Exhibit RC1094 Email chain involving Angela Hantsis, David Jones, Doug Fryer, Shane O’Connell, Graham Evans, Peter Lardner, Andrew Bona, Michael Roberts and John O’Connor, 12 August 2010.

491 Exhibit RC0951 Memo from Mr Overland to Mr Pope, 16 August 2010.

492 Transcript of Mr Simon Overland, 19 December 2019, 11904.

493 Exhibit RC0441b SDU Standard Operating Procedure Contact with ‘Witness F’ (Ms Nicola Gobbo), 29 August 2010, 2.

494 Exhibit RC0795 Statement of Superintendent John O’Connor, 11 October 2019, 4 [27].

495 Exhibit RC0795 Statement of Superintendent John O’Connor, 11 October 2019, 7 [44].

496 Exhibit RC0795 Statement of Superintendent John O’Connor, 11 October 2019, 7 [45].

497 Exhibit RC0326 Statement of Detective Sergeant Solon (Sol) Solomon, 15 January 2019, 18–19.

498 Exhibit RC0679 Consolidated transcripts of tapes of conversations between Mr Boris Buick and Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 February 2011– 9 November 2011, 75.

499 Exhibit RC0679 Transcript of conversation between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Mr Boris Buick, Mr Jason Lebusque and CDPP, 24 August 2011, 118.

500 Exhibit RC0679 Consolidated transcripts of tapes of conversations between Mr Boris Buick and Ms Nicola Gobbo, 15 February 2011– 9 November 2011, 24 August 2011, 118.

501 Exhibit RC0679 Consolidated transcripts of tapes of conversations between Boris Buick and Nicola Gobbo 15 February 2011– 9 November 2011, 26 August 2011, 17–22, 35–6; Transcript of Inspector Boris Buick, 1 November 2019, 8849–51.

502 Exhibit RC0636 Statement of Inspector Boris Buick, 10 May 2019, [56].

503 Exhibit RC0636 Statement of Inspector Boris Buick, 10 May 2019, [58].

504 Exhibit RC1039 Briars Taskforce Update, 21 September 2009.

505 Exhibit RC0962 Statement of Mr Gerard Maguire, 8 August 2019, 10 [48]–[50].

506 Exhibit RC0962 Statement of Mr Gerard Maguire, 8 August 2019, [69].

507 Exhibit RC1099 Memorandum of Advice—Buick v Dale—Gerald Maguire, 4 October 2011 with handwritten mark ups of Mr Findlay McRae, 4 October 2011, 2–4 [8]–[17], 12 [54].

508 Exhibit RC1099 Memorandum of Advice—Buick v Dale—Gerald Maguire, 4 October 2011 with handwritten mark ups of Mr Findlay McRae, 4 October 2011, 10–11 [48]–[50].

509 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 75, 12 [54].

510 Exhibit RC1255 Statement of Mr Doug Fryer, 7 October 2019, 15 [86].

511 Exhibit RC1307 Driver Taskforce Steering Committee minutes, 21 October 2011.

512 Exhibit RC0679 Transcript of conversation between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Mr Boris Buick and Mr Jason Lebusque, 21 October 2011.

513 Exhibit RC0679 Transcript of conversation between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Mr Boris Buick and Mr Jason Lebusque, 21 October 2011, 6.

514 Exhibit RC0679 Transcript of conversation between Ms Nicola Gobbo, Mr Boris Buick and Mr Jason Lebusque, 21 October 2011, 13.

515 Exhibit RC0795 Statement of Superintendent John O’Connor, 11 October 2019, [121].

516 Exhibit RC0698 Email from Ms Krista Breckweg to Mr Boris Buick and Mr Paul Sheridan, 4 November 2011.

517 Exhibit RC0698 Email from Ms Krista Breckweg to Mr Boris Buick and Mr Paul Sheridan, 4 November 2011.

518 Exhibit RC0646 Operation Purana Update, email from Mr Graham Ashton to Mr Shane Kirne, copied to Mr Jeff Pope, Mr Boris Buick, Ms Krista Breckweg, 4 November 2011.

519 Exhibit RC0795 Statement of Superintendent John O’Connor, 11 October 2019, [127].

520 Exhibit RC0347 Memorandum from Mr Paul Sheridan to Mr Graham Ashton attaching ‘Summary Witness F as requested by the CDPP’ by Mr John O’Connor, 6–7 November 2011.

521 Exhibit RC0347 Memorandum from Mr Paul Sheridan to Mr Graham Ashton attaching ‘Summary Witness F as requested by the CDPP’ by Mr John O’Connor, 6–7 November 2011.

522 Transcript of Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, 11 Dec 2019, 10870.

523 Exhibit RC0856 Statement of Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, 30 August 2019, 20 [176].

524 Exhibit RC0856 Statement of Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, 30 August 2019, 20 [177]–[178].

525 Exhibit RC0856 Statement of Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, 30 August 2019, 20 [180]–[183]; Victoria Police, ‘Filenote of Mr Findlay McRae’, 8 November 2011, produced by Victoria Police in response to a Commission Notice to Produce.

526 Exhibit RC1096 Statement of Ms Kerri Judd, Director of Public Prosecutions, 8 November 2019, 1 [5]–[6], 2–3 [13]–[17].

527 Exhibit RC1096 Statement of Ms Kerri Judd, Director of Public Prosecutions, 8 November 2019, 1–2, [5]–[9].

528 Exhibit RC1096 Statement of Ms Kerri Judd, Director of Public Prosecutions, 8 November 2019, 1–2, [5]–[8], [16]–[17].

529 Exhibit RC1096 Statement of Ms Kerri Judd, Director of Public Prosecutions, 8 November 2019, 1–2, [5]–[8], [18].

530 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, 47 [5.17].

531 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, 31 [6.1], 30 [5.13].

532 Neil Comrie, Victoria Police Human Source 3838: A Case Review (Report, 30 July 2012), 26, 28, 42, 45, 47.

533 Exhibit RC1096 Statement of Ms Kerri Judd, Director of Public Prosecutions, 8 November 2019, 5 [27]; Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Findlay McRae, 13 November 2019, 38 [7.7]; Exhibit RC1815 File note of Mr Findlay McRae of meeting with DPP and OPP, 28 August 2013.

534 Exhibit RC1255 Statement of Mr Douglas (Doug) Fryer, 7 October 2019, 19 [105].

535 See Exhibit RC1306 Further statement of Mr Jeffrey (Jeff) Pope, 21 January 2020, 14–27 [60]–[88]; Exhibit RC0835 Statement of Detective Superintendent Paul Sheridan, 12 November 2019, 8–9 [46]–[52]; Exhibit RC1166 Statement of Detective Superintendent Paul Sheridan, 12 December 2019; Exhibit RC0795 Statement of Superintendent John O’Connor, 11 October 2019, 23–8 [129]–[157].

536 Anthony Dowsley, ‘Underworld Lawyer a Secret Police Informer’, Herald Sun (Melbourne, 31 March 2014) 1.

537 Exhibit RC1096b Information provided by Ms Kerri Judd, Director of Public Prosecutions, 8 November 2019, 7 [44]–[45].

538 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, 38 [7.13].

539 Exhibit RC1404 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana, 29 November 2019, [26].

540 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Findlay (Fin) McRae, 13 November 2019, 42 [7.21].

541 Exhibit RC1404 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana, 29 November 2019, [36].

542 Exhibit RC1404 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana, 29 November 2019, [39].

543 Exhibit RC1067 Statement of Mr Findlay McRae, 13 November 2019, 39 [7.14].

544 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 61, [1].

545 Exhibit RC1711 Letter from Mr Kenneth (Ken) Lay to Mr Stephen O’Bryan, 10 April 2014, 361.

546 Exhibit RC0008 Statement of Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, 22 March 2019, Annexure 61, [4].

547 Murray Kellam, Report Concerning Victoria Police Handling of Human Source Code Name 3838 (Report, 6 February 2015) 91 (Recommendation 12).

548 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 6 [28].

549 John Champion, Report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Relation to Recommendation 12 of the Kellam Report (Report, 5 February 2016) 35 [217], 36 [214].

550 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [56] (Ginnane J).

551 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [58]–[59] (Ginnane J).

552 Responsive submission, Victoria Police, 24 August 2020, [147.4], [147.12].

553 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350; EF v CD [2017] VSC 351 (Ginnane J).

554 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [10]; EF v CD [2017] VSC 351, [3]–[4] (Ginnane J).

555 AB & EF v CD [2017] VSC 350, [422]; EF v CD [2017] VSC 351, [38] (Ginnane J).

556 AB v CD & EF [2017] VSCA 338 (Ferguson CJ, Osborn and McLeish JJA).

557 AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) (2018) 362 ALR 1, 5 [13] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ).


Appendices

Appendix A — H

Appendix A: Letters Patent

Appendix A: Letters Patent

Appendix A: Letters Patent 2
Appendix A: Letters Patent 3
Appendix A: Letters Patent 4