Former police boss Simon Overland denied he was trying to have it both ways by getting gangland lawyer Nicola Gobbo to turn informer and still represent those she dobbed on.
The ex-Victoria Police chief commissioner claims he didn’t know the woman known as Lawyer X was informing on her clients.
He says it’s “coincidental” police began an operation to bring down her high-profile, drug kingpin client Tony Mokbel just weeks after recruiting her as an informer in September 2005.
He’s told a royal commission into police informants he believed Mokbel’s family were the target.
“The intention, as I understood it, was not to go directly at Mokbel at that time but to work around him and take out those around him and build a case against him that way,” he said.
He revealed on Monday the case was centred around Mokbel’s drug operations, but to also force Mokbel into a position to turn into an informer in underworld murder cases.
“Yes, it was messy. Absolutely it was,” Mr Overland admitted.
Mr Overland claimed he made it clear to investigators Ms Gobbo was not to continue representing Mokbel while informing on his crew.
But that position was challenged in a tense exchange with royal commission counsel assisting Chris Winneke QC.
Ms Gobbo continued to overtly act for Mokbel, Mr Winneke said.
“It beggars belief, Mr Overland, that you could have been giving your investigators those clear and direct instructions and all of this was then permitted to happen throughout early 2006,” he said.
“It is unbelievable, I suggest to you.”
But Mr Overland rejected the claim.
“Well, no, that’s what happened,” he said.
Mr Overland is finally getting his chance to speak after months of evidence that largely directed blame for the Lawyer X scandal at his feet.
He has put the focus back on the investigators who handled Ms Gobbo and the snitch’s tips.
Mr Overland knew almost immediately after her registration she’d become a source and denies ever being aware she was breaching legal privilege by dobbing on clients.
He couldn’t recall sharing her informer status with his boss, then-chief commissioner Christine Nixon, but told the inquiry it should have been disclosed to prosecutors in cases where her information was used.
“They were very experienced senior investigators, I assumed they would make appropriate disclosures,” he said defending the fact he didn’t tell them to.