Family distances themselves from police informant ‘Lawyer X’ as her identity is revealed

Australia

The high-profile family of Nicola Gobbo, including her uncle and former Victorian governor Sir James Gobbo, have distanced themselves from the police informant.

Known as ‘Lawyer X’ until Friday, Ms Gobbo provided information that helped convict hundreds of gangland criminals and drug traffickers.

The scandal is now the subject of a royal commission and opened a window of appeal for some of Victoria’s most serious criminals including drug lord Tony Mokbel.

After years of court battles, the court order suppressing the identity of ‘Lawyer X’ was removed despite fears held by Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton for her safety.

Tony Mokbel at a Greek court.

Tony Mokbel at a Greek court.

AAP

In a statement released on Friday, Ms Gobbo’s family said they knew nothing of the scandal.

“As a family, we have been disturbed by the revelations leading to the establishment of a royal commission,” the statement said.

“No members of our immediate family have seen or spoken to Nicola in many years and have no knowledge of the matters to be investigated or her actions.”

Fellow lawyers ‘appalled’

The body representing Victorian barristers said Ms Gobbo committed “appalling” breaches of her ethical obligations by informing on her clients.

The Victorian Bar said in providing information to police while a barrister, she breached obligations of confidence she owed to clients.

“She committed fundamental and appalling breaches of her ethical obligations. Victoria Police also engaged in reprehensible conduct in knowingly encouraging her to commit those breaches,” it said in a statement.

Bar president Matthew Collins QC said Ms Gobbo’s conduct was “egregious”.

“All Victorian barristers are bound by a strict code of ethics under which their paramount obligation is to the administration of justice, and all are subject to a robust and rigorous disciplinary framework that applies equally to all, without fear or favour,” he said.

“The public can and should have confidence in the integrity of the State’s 2,100 practising barristers, who take their ethical obligations very seriously and have been appalled at the revelation of the breaches committed by Nicola Gobbo.”

Potential fallout

Earlier Friday, media lawyer Justin Quill said it is hard to say what the fallout from the scandal will be.

“It could range from people walking free to no effect whatsoever. It’s too many cases and too many variables to speculate how it will flush out,” he told reporters on Friday.

Mr Quill said the scandal was a serious blow to the integrity of the legal system.

'Lawyer X' provided information that helped convict hundreds of gangland criminals and drug traffickers.

‘Lawyer X’ provided information that helped convict hundreds of gangland criminals and drug traffickers.

AAP

“This has had an almost devastating impact on our legal system and the trust that people have got in it – not just the barristers and solicitors that appear in our courts, but also our police,” he said.

“Especially when the revelation came out that this was not just one rogue person, but there were potentially other informers.

“As a lawyer I’m embarrassed about what happened. I’m embarrassed a member of the profession would act in this way. I feel like people will trust lawyers a little bit less.”

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