Thursday, 4 May 2023
The Lawyer X scandal can and will be repeated in Victoria after a Labor-Greens deal saw the passing of theHuman Source Management Bill 2023 today.
Nicola Gobbo (‘Lawyer X’) was a barrister who informed against her own clients as a human source for Victoria Police in breach of her legal and ethical obligations to observe client legal privilege.
The High Court of Australia subsequently condemned this behaviour as “reprehensible conduct”.
Victoria’s Court of Appeal found that “Ms Gobbo’s conduct subverted (the accused’s) right to a fair trial, and went to the very foundations of the system of criminal trial. There was, accordingly, a substantial miscarriage of justice”.
As a consequence, a number of people convicted of serious crimes have had convictions quashed and have been released.
Despite these damning findings from our highest courts and a multi-million dollar Royal Commission which condemned the practise, the Andrews Government’s legislation specifically allows for Victoria Police to register a lawyer as a human source and breach the legal privilege owed to a client.
Shadow Attorney-General, Michael O’Brien, said the Andrews Government has set Victoria on a collision course with the High Court of Australia with this dangerous legislation.
“Using lawyers as police informants against their own clients is not compatible with the right to a fair trial, yet Labor’s law allows this to occur again,” Mr O’Brien said.
“How many more criminals will end up walking free because the Andrews Government arrogantly believes it knows better than the High Court?
“Undermining the rule of law and the right to a fair trial is another stain on the Andrews Government’s record of failing to respect fundamental rights of Victorians.”