A ROYAL commission will probe revelations that a criminal lawyer was recruited as a police informant to leak information about her clients to police.
The convictions of big-name crooks including drug lord Tony Mokbel are under a cloud after the recruitment was revealed on Monday.
The informant, known as informant 3838, was a criminal defence barrister for several people who were convicted of criminal offences during the past two decades.
The barrister had acted as an informant to Victoria Police about some of these people.
The state government will establish a royal commission to inquire into Victoria Police’s recruitment and management of the informant.
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The state government said in a statement that a High Court decision released on Monday called into question whether some convictions had occurred fairly and in accordance with law.
“The integrity of the criminal justice system is paramount and all people charged with crimes are entitled to a fair trial, no matter who they are,” the statement said.
“The Victorian Government has received assurances from Victoria Police that its practices have changed since the barrister’s recruitment as an informant, and an IBAC report in 2015, which inquired into Victoria Police’s management of informants, did not find that any unlawful conduct had occurred.
"The Victorian community has a right to further independent assurance that these past practices have been stamped out, as well as an understanding of what happened in this instance."
Police Minister Lisa Neville said Victoria Police had changed the way it handled informants.
“A royal commission will provide greater public certainty that these changes are here to stay,” she said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he hoped the full list of convictions linked to the lawyer would be finalised by the end of July.
“While these events took place many years ago, the Victorian public has a right to know that every part of the justice system acts fairly and lawfully at all times,’’ he said.
The inquiry will provide a final report by December 1, 2019.
The royal commission will consider matters such as: the number of, and extent to which, cases were affected by informant 3838; the adequacy of current management processes for human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege; the use in the criminal justice system of information from human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege; and recommended measures that could be taken to address any systemic or other failures in Victoria Police’s processes for the recruitment, handling and management of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege.
More to come
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