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Australia Lawyer X royal commission lawyers say Nicola Gobbo and Victoria Police interference may mean Tony Mokbel did not get fair trial

18:42  01 september  2020
18:42  01 september  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The troubling relationship between Lawyer X Nicola Gobbo and the police who used her has potentially had "catastrophic consequences" on Victoria 's justice system The royal commission has been looking at the use of Nicola Gobbo as a police informer between 1995 and 2009.

Nicola Gobbo said she had been "totally controlled" by Victoria Police . The McMurdo royal commission has finally reported what has been glaringly obvious for years The tantalising mail from Nicola Gobbo came at a time when police had dropped the ball on gathering criminal intelligence.

a group of people posing for the camera: Nicola Gobbo represented Tony Mokbel in court. (ABC News) © Provided by ABC NEWS Nicola Gobbo represented Tony Mokbel in court. (ABC News)

The troubling relationship between Lawyer X Nicola Gobbo and the police who used her has potentially had "catastrophic consequences" on Victoria's justice system, according to royal commission lawyers.

And the use of the barrister-turned-informer may have tarnished the legal case of notorious Melbourne gangster Tony Mokbel, the lawyers assisting the commission say.

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Nicola Gobbo , who is living in hiding in a secret location, spent months talking to the ABC to explain for the Ms Gobbo denies those allegations and told the ABC she did not break the law. "But a number of police over Nicola Gobbo 's file, held by the Victoria Police homicide squad. Victoria Police said they would not comment on those allegations until the full royal commission report was released.

A secret recording reveals police did not tell barrister Nicola Gobbo to stop representing a key gangland figure Meanwhile, the Lawyer X royal commission heard allegations Ms Gobbo helped a gangland killer receive a payment for murdering hot dog vendor Michael Marshall in October 2003.

In explosive submissions released by the commission, lawyers Chris Winneke QC, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor found that there were "significant and repeated departures from acceptable conduct" when it came to the relationship between Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police.

"In other words, things have gone badly wrong," they found.

The royal commission lawyers have spent more than a year investigating the nature of the relationship between Ms Gobbo and the force, which helped bring about an end to Melbourne's bloody gangland war, but also forced the state's justice system to its knees.

Now, the lawyers assisting the commission say a number of police officers committed criminal offences in relation to their knowledge and use of Ms Gobbo. But their names have been blacked out of the publicly released documents.

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Nicola Gobbo , dubbed Lawyer X , was a police informant while also a lawyer for drug lord Tony Mokbel And while Mokbel and others might walk from prison, police and Gobbo should not face criminal She did not tell Mokbel , despite it being her duty as his lawyer , nor did Victoria police

Royal commission lawyers said Mokbel 's case " may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo as well as the conduct of members of Victoria Police ". The Lawyer X royal commission will hand down its findings at the end of November. Posted 30 SepSeptember 2020WedWednesday 30

The submissions are merely recommendations for Commissioner Margaret McMurdo, who continues to prepare a final report to be released in November. They do not constitute formal findings.

Commissioner McMurdo decided the officers would not be publicly named, and said any charges against the officers must be "determined in a court on the criminal standard requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt".

"Whether criminal charges should be brought is a matter for the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions," she said.

"Public discussion of whether named individuals may have committed specific criminal offences in submissions or in my final report could unfairly prejudice any future trials."

Victoria Police, and former chief commissioner Simon Overland, argue the Commission does not have the power to look at breaches of law or professional standards.

Commissioner McMurdo dismissed their objection, but said the findings were "serious" and would be "detrimental to the reputations of those named".

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Disgraced lawyer Nicola Gobbo has told the Lawyer X royal commission she "obviously" failed to keep a pledge to act with integrity in her legal career, as she delivered her first day of testimony to the inquiry. Ms Gobbo is giving evidence this week from a secret location via videolink, however, only

Lawyers opposing the ban said Ms Gobbo 's image was notorious because of her December interview with 7.30. Ms Gobbo 's clients included underworld criminals Carl Williams and Tony Mokbel . Ms McMurdo accepted confidential submissions, made by lawyers for Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police

But the lawyers described the behaviour of police as "troubling" and found police tried to cover up the use of Ms Gobbo by not taking notes and not recording decisions in meeting minutes.

"This appears to have been a deliberate decision."

The royal commission lawyers described this conduct as 'noble cause corruption', which refers to a belief that the means justifies the ends.

"Whilst [police] members do not seek to serve themselves through the conduct, but rather seek the 'noble end' of 'putting away' criminals and prevent crime, it may be corruption nonetheless," they found.

The submissions said more than 1,000 criminal cases could have been affected by the use of Ms Gobbo as a source.

They said Ms Gobbo's evidence to the commission was deliberately evasive, and that she "had deliberately lied, or at best knowingly misled the Supreme Court" during the fight to keep her role a secret.

This can never happen again, says apologetic Victoria Police

The release of the submissions prompted Victoria Police to issue a public apology.

"It was an indefensible interference in the lawyer/client relationship, a relationship that is essential to the proper functioning of the criminal justice system and to the rule of law," the Victoria Police statement said.

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"Our failure at that time to ensure that these circumstances were identified and disclosed was also a significant and missed opportunity to right a wrong.

"Victoria Police apologises to the courts whose processes were impacted by what occurred, and to the community for breaching its trust."

In the statement, Victoria Police said the community could be assured the force had "come a long way since the events under examination at this Royal Commission".

"We have taken steps to make sure that what happened with Ms Gobbo can never happen again."

The lawyers assisting the commission said the conduct of police took several forms including:

  • Those who knew the conduct was wrong, but forged on
  • Those who knew Ms Gobbo's ongoing use would spark a royal commission but weighed that against the value of her information
  • Those who allowed themselves to be reassured by senior officers that Ms Gobbo's use was "sanctioned and approved" at the highest levels
  • Those who claimed ignorance and said the risks to the integrity of the system "never occurred to them"

"It appears that the high value of the information Ms Gobbo could and did provide justified, in the views of many members, at all ranks, both the obvious impropriety of using Ms Gobbo as a human source and keeping that fact hidden from the Courts."

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Tony Mokbel's right to fair trial 'may have been interfered with'

In reams of documents released by the inquiry, the lawyers said Mokbel "may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo … as well as the conduct of members of Victoria Police".

"There was the potential for the right of Mr Mokbel to a fair trial to have been interfered with," they wrote.

"The above conduct by Ms Gobbo … may constitute breaches of her duty to the administration of justice, her duty to the court, her duty to her client.

"Ms Gobbo's conduct may constitute a breach of legal professional privilege and/or confidence."

The lawyers also found all police officers operating at the height of Melbourne's bloody gangland war had an "obligation" to ensure that anyone, including Mokbel, had the right to a fair trial.

"It is submitted that there was a failure by members of Victoria Police to make appropriate disclosure to Mr Mokbel," the lawyers say.

"Evidence relied upon by the prosecution [in two of the cases] may have been obtained in consequence of an impropriety or illegality in connection with the use of Ms Gobbo as a human source by Victoria Police."

Over the course of about eight years, Ms Gobbo acted as Mokbel's lawyer on three major cases, even as she was secretly working for Victoria Police.

The submissions provide another glimmer of hope for Mokbel, who has seized on the submissions as he continues to solidify his campaign for freedom in Victoria's Court of Appeal.

His barrister, Richard Maidment QC, who is acting pro bono, described the relationship between Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police as an "unlawful agreement" and said it ultimately led to his client being exploited.

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"Of concern to Mr Mokbel is the Victorian Government's funding of Gobbo, (at a significant level), the very person who was the architect of so many people's misfortunes," Mr Maidment said.

He accused Ms Gobbo of criminal conduct including the perversion of the course of justice, perjury and obtaining legal fees by deception.

"[Victoria Police] knowingly utilised [Ms] Gobbo's information and assistance … to undermine Mr Mokbel's case," he said.

Nicola Gobbo's lawyers single out former chief Simon Overland

In a 300-page submission, Ms Gobbo's barristers Peter Collinson QC and Rishi Nathwani once again acknowledged their client often acted in conflict with, and breached, her legal duties.

But as to who was ultimately responsible for the troubling saga, they lay the blame at the feet of Victoria Police.

"Whilst Ms Gobbo accepted her double life and deceit of clients, both professional and lay, it is clear that she too was the victim of deceit at the hands of Victoria Police," her lawyers wrote.

"Victoria Police were prepared to mislead, lie to and, at times, manipulate Ms Gobbo to their end.

"Without the conduct of Victoria Police, in particular senior decision-makers, this commission would not have been necessary."

Echoing their client's testimony in February, the lawyers singled out Simon Overland's role in the affair.

Mr Overland became the deputy chief commissioner in 2006 when Ms Gobbo was being used as an informant.

"Mr Overland was intimately involved in that process," they said.

Mr Overland has consistently denied he knew Ms Gobbo was informing on her own clients and in his own evidence before the royal commission, acknowledged her use may have been illegal.

"The evidence before the commission makes unequivocally clear that Mr Overland was involved in the decision-making process as far as Ms Gobbo was concerned, despite his protestations to the contrary," they said.

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Legal advice would have prevented use of Gobbo, lawyers say

The lawyers assisting the commission argued Mr Overland, former head of the Purana Taskforce Jim O'Brien, and Ms Gobbo's handlers and detectives may have committed "disgraceful and improper" conduct.

Mr Overland, Mr O'Brien and detective Stuart Bateson were obliged to get legal advice about their use of Ms Gobbo, they said.

They said Mr Overland should have received legal advice from senior prosecutors, Victoria Police's own lawyers and the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office when he became aware of the plan to use Ms Gobbo as a source.

If that advice was received, it is unlikely Ms Gobbo would have ever signed up as an informer in September 2005 at the height of the gangland wars, the submissions said.

Message from Ashton could suggest 'noble cause corruption' was OK: submissions

The submissions said it was possible Ms McMurdo may find former chief commissioner Graham Ashton failed to ensure Victoria Police acted ethically.

The scathing assessment found the former Victoria Police boss tried to justify potentially corrupt activity on the basis that the "ends justifies the means", after the High Court ruled the use of Ms Gobbo was reprehensible and an atrocious breach of police officers' duties.

The criticism of Mr Ashton related to comments he made after the Lawyer X scandal was revealed.

Mr Ashton failed to ensure police officers acted in scrupulous compliance with the law, the submissions said.

They said Mr Ashton sent a message to officers that may have been interpreted to mean they could "ignore both the rule of law" and "engage in noble cause corruption", which perpetuated a culture that noble cause corruption was acceptable.

Yesterday, a leaked email showed Mr Ashton's successor, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton, admitted to his staff that Victoria Police's use Ms Gobbo as a police informer was "a profound failing".

Commissioner Patton's email said Victoria Police had "again accepted that permitting Nicola Gobbo to give information to officers about her own clients in this manner was profoundly wrong".


Video: Coronavirus: Police probe potential criminal activity in hotel quarantine (9News.com.au)

Lock them up: The danger of political prosecutions in a second Trump term .
Trump hasn’t managed to prosecute his enemies yet. What if he has four more years to try?He told Hillary Clinton that once he won, she’d be “in jail.” He wants foreign countries to investigate the Bidens. He said that John Kerry “should be prosecuted.” He wants Adam Schiff “questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.” John Bolton, he says, should be “in jail, money seized.” James Comey should face “years in jail.” The list goes on. This isn’t just empty political rhetoric — Trump says similar things to officials in private, and grows angry when his demands aren’t carried out.

usr: 3
This is interesting!