Victoria Police is expunging personal details of Informer 3838 — also known as Lawyer X — from the internet, with the chief commissioner of Victoria Police saying it is to protect her safety.
- Victoria Police’s chief commissioner said it was normal to restrict public information for safety reasons.
- Informer 3838 has previously said she does not trust police to keep her safe.
- Police have confirmed they used six informers employed in positions with “professional obligations”.
Take-down notices been have issued for numerous websites, including legal blogs and search engines.
The “government requests” state the action was ordered by Victoria Police, with one dated January 16, 2019.
Victoria Police has previously revealed it spent millions trying to keep the use of Informer 3838 during Melbourne’s gangland war a secret, due to fears she and her family would be murdered.
“Confidential request — unable to discuss specific URLs or nature of request,” the notice, published by independent legal complaint database Lumen, stated.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said restricting public access to information was normal procedure to protect people’s safety.
“That goes into matters that we undertake normally in accordance to law in relation to protecting people’s safety,” told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“The law makes it difficult for me to talk about what we do there, and why we do it, in this particular case particularly.”
Details to be public ‘as much as possible’
Mr Ashton would not be drawn on whether Lawyer X had been seen in central Melbourne in recent days.
Informer 3838, a former defence lawyer, has previously told the Supreme Court she did not trust police to keep her safe.
“I am not prepared to entrust everything personal to me and my children as well our privacy, safety and wellbeing to the very organisation that promised and assured that my assistance over a number of years would always remain confidential” she said.
The High Court of Australia said state authorities had a responsibility to protect her children from harm, given her unwillingness to co-operate with police over her safety.
“Her children will be at grave risk of harm unless [Informer 3838] agrees to enter into the witness protection program,” the court judgement stated.
“It is further not without significance that Victoria Police may bear a large measure of responsibility for putting [her] in the position in which she now finds herself by encouraging her to inform against her clients as she did.”
Mr Ashton said the upcoming royal commission would decide what details, uncovered in the course of its hearings, would be revealed to the public.
“We’re hoping that as much of it as possible will be done in public,” he said.
“If issues don’t go to the actual safety of 3838, we’ll try to be as open as possible and as cooperative as possible with that royal commissioner, and the royal commissioner will make that decision about what’s in camera or not.”
‘There were six informers’
The royal commission set up to investigate Victoria Police’s use of Informer 3838 as a registered police informer during Melbourne’s bloody gangland wars begins tomorrow.
The scope of its inquiry has been broadened to include other police informers, which Victoria Police confirmed included more people with “professional obligations”.
Mr Ashton said there were six informers being looked at, but they were not all lawyers.
“There weren’t six lawyers that were talked about as being human sources,” he said.
“It certainly wasn’t more, and again I just want to clarify that there weren’t six, and it’s not a case of us having six other lawyers who were running around as human sources.
“There are a lot of different professions that professional obligations relate to in society.”
Other professions could include accountants, psychiatrists, doctors, priests, former judges, and other legal professionals.