Victoria’s highest-ranking police officer will be asked to explain the force’s use of snitching lawyer Nicola Gobbo against her criminal clients.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is set to front the royal commission into the ‘Lawyer X’ scandal over Monday and Tuesday.

His predecessors, Simon Overland and Christine Nixon, are also expected to give evidence before the end of the year.

The commission is scrutinising the use of Ms Gobbo to inform on her underworld clients on-and-off, officially and unofficially between 1995 and 2012.

Mr Ashton was head of the now-defunct Office of Police Integrity when the criminal barrister was a police informer, and knew about what was happening.

But he’s refused to stand down as chief commissioner before the end of his five-year term, which finishes in 2020.

The commission has been told police couldn’t “unhear” what Ms Gobbo may have told them even after being ordered to stop collecting intelligence from her in 2010.


Lawyer X’ herself has been asked to front the inquiry she sparked, after Commissioner Margaret McMurdo rejected claims she was too physically and mentally unwell.

The former barrister is ordered to give evidence via telephone on January 29 but Ms McMurdo says she does not expect her to go through with it.

The commission cannot compel Ms Gobbo to appear but can recommend criminal charges for failing to comply with an order.