On 3 December 2018, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the Victorian Government would establish a Royal Commission to independently inquire into Victoria Police’s recruitment and management of one of its informants.

On 14 December 2018, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy announced the appointment of the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC as the Royal Commission Chair, along with former South Australian Police Commissioner Malcolm Hyde AO APM as a Commissioner.

In early February 2019 Commissioner Hyde resigned. On 7 February, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC issued amended letters patent (External link) to reflect Commissioner Hyde's resignation and changes to the scope of the Commission's inquiry.

The decision to call for a Royal Commission followed a judgment of the High Court in the matter of AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) [2018] HCA 58 (External link), which raised questions about whether some convictions involving the informant occurred fairly and in accordance with law.

The informant was a criminal defence barrister for several people who were convicted of criminal offences over the past two decades. At the same time, this barrister acted as an informant to Victoria Police about some of these people.

As part of its inquiry, the Royal Commission will also consider the adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police's current processes for recruiting, handling and managing human sources who are subject to obligations of confidentiality or privilege, and the use of such human source information in the broader criminal justice system, including how those failures may be avoided in future.

About the Commissioner and Chair

Justice McMurdo has had a highly distinguished legal career having worked in the Public Defender’s Office (1976-1989) and admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1989. She was appointed a judge of the District Court of Queensland and the Children’s Court of Queensland (1993-98).

In 1998, Justice McMurdo was appointed President of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Queensland. She was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (2007) for service to the law and judicial administration in Queensland.

Terms of Reference

The Royal Commission will inquire into and report on:

  1. The number of, and extent to which, cases may have been affected by the conduct of 3838 as a human source.
  2. The conduct of current and former members of Victoria Police in their recruitment, handling and management of 3838 as a human source.
  3. The current adequacy and effectiveness of Victoria Police’s processes for the recruitment, handling and management of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, including:

    a. whether Victoria Police’s practices continue to comply with the recommendations of the Kellam report; and
    b. whether the current practices of Victoria Police in relation to such sources are otherwise appropriate.

  4. The current use of human source information in the criminal justice system from human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, subject to section 123 of the Inquiries Act 2014, including:

    a. the appropriateness of Victoria Police’s practices around the disclosure or non-disclosure of the use of such human sources to prosecuting authorities; and
    b. whether there are adequate safeguards in the way in which Victoria Police prosecutes summary cases, and the Office of Public Prosecutions prosecutes indictable matters on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, when the investigation has involved human source material

  5. Recommended measures that may be taken to address any systemic or other failures in Victoria Police’s processes for the recruitment, handling and management of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, and in the use of such human source information in the broader criminal justice system, including how those failures may be avoided in future.
  6. Any other matters necessary to satisfactorily resolve the matters set out in paragraphs 1-5.

The Commission is required to report its findings and any recommendations to the Governor in relation to the specified matter [1] at first instance, and by 1 July 2019 or such other date as agreed between the Commission and the Government. The Commission is required to report its findings and any recommendations to the Governor in relation to the remaining matters as soon as possible thereafter, and no later than 1 December 2019 or such other date to be agreed between the Commission and the Government.

Further information

Further information is available on the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants website (External link).

To contact the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, phone 1800 312 612. 

For media enquiries email tracey.matters@rcmpi.vic.gov.au (External link) or phone 0436 821 144.