Don’s Dynamite – March 2019

Well the Dynamite set out with the best of intent to be positive and thoughtful during 2019.

But it’s really hard to stick to a plan when we see events unfolding which really need comment and which require admonition.

We’ve all seen the tragedy unfolding of Lawyer X in Melbourne. The High Court has now ruled that the name of Lawyer X should be made public and her name has been published.

An enquiry has been launched into the conduct of police and the matters surrounding the engagement of Lawyer X as a police informant.

So, what do we make of all of this?

What has been put forward, whether as an excuse or as an explanation of sorts is that during the gangland wars in Melbourne, the same events which gave birth to the Underbelly television series, the police were under extreme pressure to stop and solve the rising murder count and to put the brakes on the escalation of what had become a major industry – drugs.

Let’s just think about this for a moment. As citizens we can all understand that from time to time police will need to rely on informants for intelligence of criminal activity. But where is the line in the sand?

So, enter Lawyer X. One media report suggested that Lawyer X, as a student had fallen foul of the police on drug related matters and had done a deal with the police to avoid a major prosecution charge.

The debt to police and society [if you want to draw such a long bow] would be paid off by instalments of criminal intelligence being provided by Lawyer X.

Perhaps we could all live with this except for one reason and one alone – the information was actually the lawyer for the criminals. Well really!

It’s a bit like the confessional isn’t it – just imagine telling your local priest of your criminal sins only to find out that the priest is a police informant. In the current circumstances it would be a fair punt that there is the odd person with a turned collar who is in the pay of the police.

There is movement towards the clergy being required to report certain matters to police and the

Dynamite doesn’t have an issue with that – issues like molestation of children and the vulnerable readily come to mind.

What the Lawyer X debacle really brings to the fore are two questions:

  1. Can you trust your lawyer?
  2. What price the integrity of the police?

Let’s deal with 1 – if you have a legal issue – and let’s say it’s a criminal issue – if you can’t trust your lawyer then this is a serious attack on or deficiency in the legal system. So significant in fact, that the Dynamite would suggest as to almost bring the legal system to a state of collapse.

If the legal issue is a commercial matter, then what assurance is there that the lawyer will not leak that issue and sensitive detail to a commercial competitor?

Obviously, there needs to be absolute trust in your lawyer and, if proven, then the toughest and broadest sanctions should be imposed on Lawyer X.

Dealing with 2 – what is clear, and no doubt will come out of the inquiry, is that the police crossed the line. All that the police have achieved now is to have exposed the citizens of Victoria and probably all of Australia, to a number of convictions being overturned. One can almost see the ambulance chasers salivating at the prospect of working to have compensation paid to the criminal element on the basis of what must be faulty and dangerous convictions.

Whilst the actions of the criminals were such that they would most likely have ended up in gaol had the evidence against them been lawfully obtained, they are now likely to walk away with large cheques courtesy of the public purse. All this does is add insult to injury – but then like each and every citizen, those who feel aggrieved by the Lawyer X debacle, are entitled to their day in court and to be compensated if their conviction is overturned.

What some police officers in Victoria should reflect upon is their plain dumb actions [did they really think that they would get away with it?] which will have a very negative impact on the integrity and trust in all police officers in that State and Australia wide. As is always the case, it is the innocent victims – including honest police – who pay the piper.

The next question which doesn’t really require answering is how dumb does a person have to be to achieve commissioned rank in the Victoria police force?

All this sounds a little like Queensland some years ago – the good coppers got tarnished by the bad ones – and then what is the current state of play in Queensland? The Dynamite leaves that to you.

Maybe it’s time to have a Royal Commission or inquiry into the conduct of law enforcement at set periods – this would avoid the need to only look at conduct when appalling behaviour seems to warrant an inquiry and ensure integrity.

Stick around folks – there should be some interesting reading coming out about Lawyer X and the boys in blue [or is that black in the Victoria] and it’s coming your way soon to a media outlet near you.

The good news for Fraser Coast locals is that none of the local journos are likely to be involved, so spelling and poor grammar in reporting should be limited.