The former head of the royal commission on Attorney X’s saga has confirmed concerns that there may be “more Nicola Gobbos” after Victoria Police refused to reveal 11 more files during the long-running investigation.
- The Victoria Police did not give the Commission access to 11 “extremely sensitive” cases
- Margaret McMurdo says that is why the commission recommended an independent person to review them
- She says there is also the possibility that there might be more overturned beliefs
Margaret McMurdo, speaking publicly for the first time since the Royal Commission in the Management of Police Informants made its 111 recommendations last month, told the ABC that it was for this reason that the commission recommended that an “independent person be appointed to do exactly that.” investigated this problem “.
In her findings, Ms. McMurdo described the deployment of informant Nicola Gobbo, who became the police force, during the bloody Underworld War in Melbourne as a “systemic failure”.
Their report found that Victoria Police had failed to give the Commission access to 11 “extremely sensitive” human source files relating to individuals with potential legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.
“Since these 11 human source files have not been independently audited, the Commission recommends that the Victorian Government appoint a qualified person to review them as a priority,” the report said.
“The review was designed to determine whether there was any evidence that criminal prosecutions were involved – either because the Victoria Police did not properly receive evidence from one of the 11 human sources or because relevant evidence should have been disclosed to law enforcement and accused persons not disclosed.
“If such evidence is identified, the chief commissioner should make a referral to the Victorian DPP and / or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.”
Nicola Gobbo, known as Attorney X, set off a royal commission after telling police about her clients. (ABC News: Greg Nelson)
When asked if she was concerned that there might be “more Nicola Gobbos” out there, Ms. McMurdo said, “Obviously I am concerned that this is a possibility.”
“”[That’s] why the commission recommended appointing an independent person to investigate, “she said.
“But we just have to wait and see if it turns into something.”
Other recommendations included that a special investigator should be appointed to investigate whether Ms. Gobbo and police officers were breaking the law when she was acting as a secret source for the Victoria Police Department.
When asked if Ms. McMurdo was concerned that the Victoria Police or Ms. Gobbo might not be able to work together, she stated that the special investigator’s office would “have all the coercive force necessary to complete an independent investigation”.
Commissioner Margaret McMurdo spoke at the Victorian Royal Commission’s first hearing on police informant management last year. (Supplied: Royal Commission for Police Informant Management)
The ABC has asked the Victoria Attorney General for an answer.
Ms. McMurdo also said the well-being of Ms. Gobbo and her children, who continue to remain in hiding, has been a concern throughout the commission.
“We have taken great care to ensure that their whereabouts are protected and that no photos of the children are available,” she said.
“Of course that’s a real problem … and I’m sure everyone in the Victoria Police and the Victorian government share this – yes, it’s a real problem.”
“Possibility” of more overturned beliefs
Two people dropped their beliefs after the scandal, and Ms. McMurdo said, “there is certainly a possibility” that there could be more.
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“That will be a matter for the courts and the evidence that comes out in court,” she said.
“The Commission has only administrative powers. It all depends on what evidence is available and what is presented to the courts and how the court decides on the case.
“It is certainly a possibility.”
But she said the Victorian justice system “is now working the way it should be”.
“Anyone whose cases may be affected have been informed so that they can decide whether to appeal,” she said.
“The special investigator will investigate whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges.
“So yeah, it might have taken a while, but it’s happening now, so Victorians can safely take comfort in knowing that their criminal justice system is now working as it should be.”