Nicola Gobbo’s lawyer has revealed he was blindsided by a television interview the snitch gave days after he argued she was too unwell to speak to a royal commission sparked by her activities.
The woman known as Lawyer X was last week ordered to give evidence at a royal commission into her informing, after claims she was too physically and mentally unwell to appear were rejected.
But Ms Gobbo broke her years-long silence on Tuesday, in an interview recorded at a secret overseas location with the ABC’s 7.30 program.
Commissioner Margaret McMurdo raised the interview as hearings continued on Wednesday, concerned she didn’t know about the tell-all while hearing arguments from Ms Gobbo’s lawyer Rishi Nathwani about her ill health.
“I would like to know why the commission was not informed that at or about that very time she was flying to an international destination and giving a lengthy interview to nationwide media and that was not disclosed to the Commission when I was being told … she was too unwell to give evidence,” she asked.
“It was not within my knowledge at all,” Mr Nathwani replied, telling the commissioner he was “unequivocally” unaware of Ms Gobbo’s interview.
In the interview Ms Gobbo claimed the perception she was trying to avoid giving evidence was frustrating.
Mr Nathwani said he was trying to find out when Ms Gobbo would provide a statement to the commission.
She has been ordered to give evidence in two-hour bursts over the phone starting on January 29.
The commission cannot compel her to give evidence but Ms McMurdo can recommend she be prosecuted for failing to comply with the order.
Ms Gobbo denied total responsibility for her role as an informer, which saw many of her underworld clients jailed for their offending.
“I’m not trying to say I played no role in doing anything and that I have no responsibility … but ultimately, anything that I did or said or was told to do was with the imprimatur of the chief commissioner of the police.”
She said the police were now her greatest fear because they might either “kill me or lead to a position where I am killed”.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is back in the witness box at the inquiry, giving evidence for the third day about his knowledge of Ms Gobbo’s informing.
He says he learned in 2007 that she was a police informer, when he was responsible for investigating police corruption and wrongdoing. He has defended his decision not to investigate back then.