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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nicola Gobbo
Born (1972-11-16) 16 November 1972 (age 49)
Melbourne, Australia
Other namesLawyer X, Informer 3838
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
Known forBarrister in criminal defence litigation[1]
Partner(s)Richard Barkho
RelativesSir James Gobbo (uncle)

Nicola Maree Gobbo, sometimes known as Nikki Gobbo,[2] (born 16 November 1972)[3] is an Australian former criminal defence barrister and police informant.[4][5]

Drug charge at law school

In 1993, while she was a law student, police raided a house owned by Gobbo and found amphetamines, marijuana, and weapons. Gobbo, her boyfriend, the drug dealer Brian Wilson, and another man were charged with drug possession and pleaded guilty. Gobbo was given a good behaviour bond. Two years later, another raid turned up more amphetamines. Gobbo was concerned that another drug conviction would destroy her law career. No charges were laid, and soon afterwards, she was registered as police informer G395[6] although she claimed to be unaware of the fact until finding it out through the media.[7]

1996 election scandal

Gobbo first came to public attention during the 1996 Australian federal election. In the last week of the campaign, Labor Treasurer Ralph Willis used letters purportedly from Jeff Kennett criticising Liberal leader John Howard. The letters were quickly exposed as forgeries.[8] Gobbo, then a Young Labor member, publicly claimed that the forger was then-Liberal staffer and current Senate president Scott Ryan, who had intended for the forgery to pass initial inspection then rebound on Labor.[9][10] Despite Gobbo’s signed statutory declaration, Ryan denied the claim.[1]


Gobbo, under the pseudonym Witness F,[11] was a witness against Paul Dale, a former policeman accused of corruption.[12][13][14][15] She asserted that Australian authorities have not fulfilled assurances made to her about protecting her safety. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation repeated that Gobbo asserted she had received death threats due to her planned testimony.[16] On 16 April 2008, Gobbo's parked car was engulfed in flames.[6] After the death of Carl Williams on 9 April 2010 and Gobbo refused to testify, the case was withdrawn.[17] Shortly afterwards Gobbo revealed in an interview with the ABC that she was Witness F in the Paul Dale case.[6]

In February 2019 a 2016 affidavit written by Inspector Brooke Hall stated that Mick Gatto and Horty Mokbel and others had threatened to kill Gobbo if it was proven that she had been providing information to Victoria Police. At the same time it was also revealed that a threat was made against her oldest child.[18]

It was reported in 2019 that Gobbo had declined to enter witness protection as "she feared police more than her former clients"[7] and was using the name Nikki Gobbo.[2]

Lawyer X scandal

Whilst originally understood to be a registered police informant from 2005 to 2009 it was later revealed that Gobbo was recruited as a registered police informant in 1995, 1999 and again in 2005 and was still providing information in 2010[19][20] at which time police were instructed that they could no longer accept information from her. Despite this Gobbo continued to offer police information until 2012.[21]

Between September 2005 and January 2009 Gobbo was responsible for more than 5,000 reports and regularly spoke to Purana Taskforce detectives[22] whilst working as a defence lawyer for many of Melbourne's organised crime figures.[23] She passed to Victoria Police information about her clients whilst representing them, leading to the prospect of many convictions being overturned. During media coverage of the scandal in 2018 and 2019, Gobbo's identity was subject to a suppression order, and she was referred to as EF, Lawyer X or Informer 3838.[20][24] The suppression order was lifted in December 2018 when it was reported that she had represented convicted criminals, Carl Williams and Tony Mokbel.[1] On 3 December 2018, the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews ordered the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants. As part of its inquiry, the Royal Commission examined the number of, and extent to which, criminal cases may have been affected by the conduct of Gobbo.[25] The Commission was due to report to the Government in July 2019; however, as the inquiry proceeded it became clear that this timeline was not achievable. In May 2019 the Commission received $20 million in additional funding and a twelve-month extension to July 2020.[20] The commission delivered the final report and recommendations to the Governor on 30 November 2020.[26]

In May 2019, it was reported that some of Gobbo's clients who received criminal convictions could be potentially overturned on appeal, on the basis that Gobbo may have provided information to police that led to the conviction of her clients, whilst at the same time representing her clients as their defence lawyer.[27] At the time of lifting the suppression order to reveal Gobbo's identity, the High Court found that [Gobbo] covertly informing on [her] clients was a "fundamental and appalling breach" of the barrister's obligations.[28] In handing down their decision on appeal from the Supreme Court of Victoria, Appeals Court, the judges commented:[29]

Generally speaking, it is of the utmost importance that assurances of anonymity of the kind that were given to EF [Gobbo] are honoured. If they were not, informers could not be protected and persons would be unwilling to provide information to the police which may assist in the prosecution of offenders. That is why police informer anonymity is ordinarily protected by public interest immunity. But where, as here, the agency of police informer has been so abused as to corrupt the criminal justice system, there arises a greater public interest in disclosure to which the public interest in informer anonymity must yield.

EF'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. 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. As a result, the prosecution of each Convicted Person was corrupted in a manner which debased fundamental premises of the criminal justice system.

In 2020, whilst the Royal Commission was still in progress, Victoria Police offered to arrange and pay for her to move to a country without an extradition treaty with Australia so that she would not be able to be investigated or prosecuted for her actions in the Lawyer X matter.[30]

After the end of the Royal Commission, Gobbo told the ABC that she was concerned that Victoria Police might attempt to stop her from working with the special investigator appointed to examine if charges should be laid in connection with the matter.[31]

Personal life

Gobbo is the cousin of a Melbourne barrister, Jeremy Gobbo QC. She is also the niece of Sir James Gobbo, a former Governor of Victoria and a former Supreme Court judge.[1][32][6]

Gobbo's partner is Richard Barkho; the couple have two children. As of March 2019, Barkho was serving a five-year custodial sentence for drug trafficking.[33]


When the TV show Desperate Housewives first premiered in Australia in 2004, Gobbo was one of the prominent Australian women from whom The Age sought a reaction.[4]

Gobbo's involvement in the Melbourne gangland killings has been dramatised in the Nine Network Australian television series Informer 3838, produced by Screentime, which premiered on 20 April 2020.

Journalist Adam Shand also hosted a six-part Australian crime podcast series in February-March 2020 about Gobbo called Understate: Lawyer X.[34]

The 9 episodes of season two of the ABC investigative podcast Trace covers the actions of Gobbo and includes interviews with her.[35]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d McKenzie-Murray, Martin (6 April 2019). "Police informants inquiry". The Saturday Paper. Australia. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b O'Neil, Patrick (12 April 2019). "Gobbo and Mokbel: On a wig and a prayer". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Exhibit RC0015 Affidavit to the Board of Examiners, 4 February 1997", application for admission to practice as a barrister and solicitor, Supreme Court of Victoria
  4. ^ a b "Women flock to retro show". The Age. 5 February 2005. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. Melbourne barrister Nicola Gobbo said: "What a fantastic program. I'm already a fan... It's always good to be able to laugh at reality and it's reality TV for the suburbs. I'm not a suburban housewife but I think it's fabulous."{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. ^ "Revealed: Lawyer X is gangland barrister Nicola Gobbo". Australian Financial Review. 1 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Ratliff, Evan (16 January 2020). "The Mysterious Lawyer X". The California Sunday Magazine. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b Mills, Tammy (10 December 2019). "I didn't know I was an informer: Nicola Gobbo says police manipulated her". The Age. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  8. ^ Farouqe, Farrah (2 May 1996). "Forged letters author still unknown". The Age. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  9. ^ Gobbo, Nicola (13 July 1999). "13 July 1999 – Extracts from document tabled in New South Wales Parliament in July 1999". Australian National News of the Day. Archived from the original on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Nicola Gobbo's role revealed in infamous 1996 election eve political hoax". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  11. ^ Sweeney, Georgie Moore and Karen (19 February 2020). "Former top cop denies Lawyer X leak claim". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  12. ^ Murphy, Padraic (26 November 2011). "Lawyer Nicola Gobbo intimately linked to former cop Paul Dale". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. After Mr Dale was charged over the burglary, Ms Gobbo visited him at Port Phillip Prison. Ms Gobbo was later asked to pass messages between Mr Dale and gangland killer Carl Williams. Ms Gobbo later gave a statement to police after recording a conversation she had with Mr Dale at an Albert Park coffee shop.
  13. ^ Lowe, Adrian (26 June 2010). "Lawyer 'demanded $20m'". The Age. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. In April, Ms Gobbo issued proceedings in the Supreme Court against the state of Victoria, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland and his predecessor, Christine Nixon. In her statement of claim, she alleges she was induced by police to make a statement against Mr Dale and her security and safety as a witness were not properly managed.
  14. ^ Lowe, Adrian (25 September 2010). "Gobbo case settled out of court with police". The Age. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. Nicola Gobbo, a former criminal barrister, had issued Supreme Court proceedings against the State of Victoria, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland and his predecessor, Christine Nixon, alleging police had failed to comply with an agreement to protect her after she agreed to testify against former detective Paul Dale and put her safety at risk.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  15. ^ Campbell, James (27 November 2011). "How I taped drug squad cop Paul Dale: Nicola Gobbo". Sunday Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 14 December 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011. Gobbo also claims she passed on messages between Dale and Carl Williams under the noses of the police who were trying to put them away, as well as between Dale and Terrence Hodson - a crim and police informer, who, along with his wife, was executed in May 2004.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  16. ^ Caldwell, Alison (22 November 2011). "Death threats in case against allegedly corrupt cop". ABC News. Australia. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. A barrister who has represented several Melbourne underworld figures has been dropped as a prosecution witness in a case against a former drug squad detective because of concerns for her safety. Nicola Gobbo received death threats over her involvement in the case against Paul Dale.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  17. ^ "Former cop denies seeking chat with gangland bosses days after being arrested". ABC News. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Gangland figure Mick Gatto threatened to kill police Informer 3838, court told". ABC News. 9 February 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  19. ^ Sakkal, Erin Pearson, Paul (1 March 2019). "Informer 3838: Timeline of a scandal 26 years in the making". The Age. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  20. ^ a b c "Impossible deadline: Lawyer X inquiry gets further $20m and more time to report". the Guardian. 25 May 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  21. ^ Sweeney, Karen (5 May 2020). "Lawyer X final report delayed to November". Augusta-Margaret River Mail. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  22. ^ "Lawyer X: the extraordinary story laid out before royal commission". the Guardian. 30 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  23. ^ "'Am I doing the right thing?' A journalist's crisis of conscience after finding Nicola Gobbo in hiding". ABC News. 2 October 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  24. ^ Farnsworth, Sarah (1 March 2019). "Lawyer X's identity revealed after gag order expires". ABC News. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  25. ^ "About the Commission". Victoria, Australia: Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants. 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Commission timeline | Royal Commission into Management of Police Informants Content Management System". Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  27. ^ Lagan, Bernard (10 May 2019). "Australian gangsters set to be freed because mob lawyer was police informant". Sydney – via
  28. ^ "Melbourne gangland lawyer explains why she became a police informant". ABC News. Australia. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  29. ^ AB (a pseudonym) v. CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v. CD (a pseudonym) [2018] HCA 58 at 10-12 (5 November 2018), High Court (Australia)
  30. ^ Houston, Chris Vedelago, Cameron (6 February 2022). "Police told Nicola Gobbo to flee overseas to avoid prosecution". The Age. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  31. ^ "Nicola Gobbo says she is still being silenced by Victoria Police". ABC News. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  32. ^ Mills, Tammy (1 March 2019). "Gobbo family distance themselves from gangland lawyer, informer 3838 Nicola Gobbo, also known as Lawyer X". The Age. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  33. ^ Younger, Emma (20 March 2019). "Lawyer X Nicola Gobbo's partner loses court bid to have jail term reduced". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  34. ^ "Understate: Lawyer X on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  35. ^ "Trace". Retrieved 8 May 2022.

Further reading

This page was last edited on 10 May 2022, at 11:43
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