‘Careful and realistic’: Public prosecutor defends lack of Lawyer X charges

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

The state’s top prosecutor has defended the lack of charges for Victoria Police officers involved in the Lawyer X scandal, arguing she was not convinced of a reasonable prospect of conviction.

Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd, KC, on Thursday issued a public reply to Wednesday’s explosive report by the former High Court judge tasked with investigating those involved in the long-running saga.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd.Credit: Paul Jeffers

In Special Investigator Geoffrey Nettle’s report, tabled in parliament, the former judge threatened to quit and suggested his office should be abolished because the DPP was not willing to lay charges, despite him collecting thousands of pages of evidence.

In response, Judd said her decision-making was informed by the likelihood of successful convictions and not a public-interest test.

“In all three prosecutions [proposed by the Office of the Special Investigator], I never reached the stage of having to determine whether it was in the public interest to proceed,” Judd wrote.

“All three prosecutions were refused on the basis that there were not reasonable prospects of conviction.”

The state’s top prosecutor went on to write that at no stage did she rule out the prospect of future prosecutions and that she would “consider any further briefs on their merits”.

“I acknowledge the diligent efforts of the OSI in these most challenging investigations. My decisions in relation to these matters should be interpreted as nothing other than the results of careful and realistic assessments of the evidence.”

The Lawyer X scandal is considered one of the darkest chapters in Victoria’s legal history. The saga refers to former gangland barrister Nicola Gobbo being used as a police informant, which undermined lawyer-client privilege, a key pillar of the legal system. Three criminal convictions have been quashed since the scandal became public.

The Age revealed Gobbo had been prepared to plead guilty to perverting the course of justice and testify against police.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday refused to be drawn on whether he was disappointed by the fact that no one will be charged following the years-long Lawyer X investigation that followed a royal commission.

“That’s not a matter for me or the Victorian government,” he said.

“We have a system that is a very, very important part of the way our modern democracy works. It’s based on the fine judgments that are made by independent prosecutor prosecutorial officers … [not] elected members of parliament.”

The premier added that he would not get into a debate with the Office of the Special Investigator or the Department of Public Prosecutions.

“It’s not appropriate. There will always be differences of opinion on these matters.”

Get the day’s breaking news, entertainment ideas and a long read to enjoy. Sign up to receive our Evening Edition newsletter here.

Most Viewed in Politics

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article