Victoria Police told barrister Nicola Gobbo they would pay for her to flee overseas, including to a country without extradition treaties with Australia, so she could avoid criminal investigation or prosecution into her work as a police informer.
The offer was made in 2020 by a senior officer in the police’s covert operations unit while the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants was investigating the potentially corrupt actions of the former lawyer and Victoria Police.
A source familiar with the plan, who cannot be identified because they were talking about confidential operations, said Ms Gobbo was told police would arrange and fund her permanent relocation to one of several overseas destinations that placed her out of the reach of authorities.
The officer said accepting the deal would mean Ms Gobbo was safely beyond the jurisdiction of Victorian prosecutors or the courts before the start of any formal criminal investigation or any charges could be laid in what has become the worst legal and police scandal in the state’s history.
Any criminal prosecution of Ms Gobbo would likely reveal evidence that Victoria Police would find embarrassing, or expose police members themselves to prosecution.
The Age cannot disclose any further details due to laws that grant the Chief Commissioner of Police widespread powers to suppress information and circumvent normal legal constraints.
It appears Ms Gobbo rejected the offer. The 49-year-old has hired barristers Rishi Nathwani and Phillip Boulton and solicitor Bryan Wrench to represent her in dealings with a special investigator appointed to examine the case, former High Court justice Geoffrey Nettle.
Documents released during the 2018 High Court case that ultimately led to Ms Gobbo’s public exposure showed Victoria Police had previously threatened to have her children taken away unless she complied with security arrangements set by the force.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said “any suggestion that Victoria Police has done or is doing anything to undermine the royal commission is simply untrue”.