Victoria Police legal head cleared of wrongdoing over handling of Lawyer X scandal
The head of Victoria Police’s legal department, Fin McRae, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner over his involvement in the Lawyer X scandal.
- Mr McRae was referred to the watchdog when the Royal Commission’s findings were handed down in November 2020
- The Legal Services Board and Commissioner says no disciplinary action will be taken
- Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton says Mr McRae has his “utmost confidence”
Mr McRae was referred to the watchdog by the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants last year, with Commissioner Margaret McMurdo stating his conduct “fell short of the commission’s expectations for the most senior lawyer in Victoria Police”.
“The Commission considers that, he should have ensured that adequate disclosure was made to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) much earlier and much more comprehensively than it was,” she said at the time.
The royal commission was called in 2018 after it emerged that former high-profile defence barrister Nicola Gobbo had been acting as a police informant.
The regulator released a statement saying after a thorough examination it found Mr McRae’s conduct did not constitute unsatisfactory professional conduct or misconduct, and no disciplinary action would be taken.
Police chief says Mr McRae’s integrity ‘beyond reproach’
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said it was “great” that Mr McRae had been publicly vindicated.
Mr Patton said Mr McRae had his utmost confidence and described him as an outstanding employee.
“I said at the time about … a year and a half ago, Fin McRae has my utmost confidence, he’s a man of immense integrity and he did everything he could throughout that period to be as transparent and provide clear and strong advice,” Commissioner Patton told ABC Radio Melbourne.
He said there were “no winners in any of this”.
“Fin has had to endure public criticism, he’s had to go through a process, ultimately it has proven to be the case that he has acted appropriately, he’s done what he should have done, he has now been … cleared, and his integrity has always been and continues to be beyond reproach,” he said.
“He continues to perform his role absolutely professionally as our general counsel … and he has my utmost confidence.”
Victoria’s Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said she could not comment as it was a matter for the Legal Services Commission Board which had advised Victoria Police that the matter was now closed.
“However, what I would say is that the government is working through the recommendations of that royal commission. We have established the implementation monitor, the special investigator and we continue to provide legislation to the Parliament,” Ms Symes said.