Lawyer X to be unmasked after Court of Appeal ruling
Victoria's highest court has ruled in the Herald Sun's favour and ordered that the identity of Lawyer X can be unmasked.
In a major victory for transparency and the public's right to know, the Court of Appeal today rejected a legal bid by Victoria Police to keep the barrister's name and image under wraps.
The ruling means that after a five-year legal battle the Herald Sun will be able to reveal Lawyer X's identity next Friday, March 1.
In December, the High Court made a historic ruling to end years of secrecy over the informer scandal which has shaken the force and triggered a Royal Commission.
The High Court green-lighted the Director of Public Prosecutions to alert criminals that their convictions could have been tainted because she was used by police to inform on clients, ruling that her identity should be revealed on February 5.
But Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton launched a last-ditch bid to stop the barrister turned informer from ever being publicly identified.
The Herald Sun, as well as the Royal Commission into police informants challenged the police's latest salvo in a protracted legal battle sparked by a Herald Sun story in March, 2014.
The Victoria and Commonwealth director of public prosecutions both supported the release of her name.
Lawyer X has long rejected police offers of police protection.
She was registered as a police informer at least three times in 1995, 1999 and 2005.
The high-profile barrister credits her assistance for the arrests and charging of 386 people, including her clients.
She listed among top stings the jailing of her clients Carl Williams, Tony Mokbel and his associate Rob Karam, and Faruk Orman.
In a 2014 letter, Lawyer X wrote of sense of betrayal that her role as an informer had been exposed in the face of police assurances it would be hidden.
``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.''
The High Court had ruled in December: "EF's (the lawyer'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.
"Likewise, Victoria Police were guilty of reprehensible conduct in knowingly encouraging EF to do as she did and were involved in sanctioning atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer to discharge all duties imposed on them faithfully and according to law without favour or affection, malice or ill-will.
"The public interest in preserving EF's (the lawyer's) anonymity must be subordinated to the integrity of the criminal justice system."