28th September 2021
Why do we have a Police Force? So that by and large we can live together as a community in peace and harmony. Police Forces have no intrinsic merit of their own. They exist solely for the service they can provide to the community.
In providing that service we could reasonably expect high ethical standards, transparency and accountability. Are we seeing that with the Victoria Police?
The Lawyer X scandal dates back years and the Victoria Police fought tooth and nail, at the cost of millions of dollars, to keep Nicola Gobbo’s name from public disclosure. VicPol took the case all the way to the High Court, which found in December 2018 that Victoria Police’s conduct in using Gobbo as a confidential informer was “reprehensible” and had corrupted prosecutions.
The outcome of this sorry saga is yet to be played out. Some of the police involved could end up in jail.
Following this debacle, one could expect that the lessons have been learned. But have they? It appears not.
There is currently a case pending before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) where leave is being sought to call as witnesses four members of VicPol who were engaged in the first police investigation of the ICook Foods scandal. An investigation that has been moved several times for reasons that have never been disclosed. No transparency here, even when questions have been asked as to why the case was moved.
Who made the decisions to keep moving the case? Why? Who is accountable for these decisions? Certainly no one at ICooks has been given any idea. Victims of alleged corruption were ignored. No accountability here.
One could expect that if there is nothing to hide then VicPol would be more than willing to accede to the request to call these police at the VCAT hearing. Such is not the case. VicPol is again taking every step possible to thwart the appearance of these three at VCAT. Why?
There is an old legal adage, “Innocence demands the right to speak. Guilt invokes the right to silence.”
A public body like VicPol should honour the “Model Litigant Rules” that apply to all Government Departments. Why not in this case?
Ethical conduct, transparency and accountability must be embraced if we are to have faith in the integrity of the Victoria Police.