Lawyer X identity to be revealed
THE identity of the Victorian gangland lawyer who fed information to the police is set to be revealed next month, following a five-year legal battle.
Yesterday, a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal resulted in theHerald Sun winning the legal battle to reveal the identity of the female barrister known as Lawyer X.
As of March 1, media outlets will be able to publish the name and images of the woman who gave detectives information on her high-profile clients who were part of Melbourne's gangland war.
Victoria Police have been fighting to keep her identity a secret, claiming publicly naming her would put her life in serious danger.
The identity of Lawyer X, also known as Informer 3838 or EF, was meant to be made public on February 5 following a historic ruling last December by the High Court that found information about the informer to be in the public interest.
"EF's actions in purporting to act as counsel for the convicted persons while covertly informing against them were fundamental and appalling breaches of EF's obligations as counsel to her clients and of EF's duties to the court," the High Court said during their ruling.
It also blasted the "reprehensible conduct" of the Victoria Police for encouraging Lawyer X to continue providing them with information on her clients.
"The public interest in preserving EF's anonymity must be subordinated to the integrity of the criminal justice system," the ruling stated.
But a final push by Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton for Lawyer X's identity to stay suppressed delayed the ruling.
Since then, the newly-formed Royal Commission into Management of Police Informants and the Herald Sun have been challenging the last-ditch effort not to reveal the name.
It is known that Lawyer X was an informer for the police at least three times in 1995, 1999 and 2005.
It is believed the high-profile barrister's information helped lead to the arrests of 386 people, including her clients.
In a 2014 letter written by Lawyer X, she called out the Victoria Police for failing to keep her role as an informer a secret, the Herald Sun reported.
"Victoria Police failed to properly and adequately protect my identity as an informer/human source: it is difficult to imagine a greater breach of its duty of care," she wrote.
"On a personal level I feel betrayed by the very people in whom I placed my trust that they would maintain my confidential role and that it would never ever become publicly known."
Part of the royal commission's job is to determine how many of Lawyer X's cases have been affected by her conduct as an informant and to what extent.
The commission has to report on the number of affected cases by July 1 and broader matters by December 1, but it may ask the Victorian Government for more time.
The commission will hold its first public hearing in March.