The state’s corruption watchdog is investigating Victoria Police over allegations that information from privileged conversations between a senior member of the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang and his lawyer was potentially used to build a legal case against the prominent bikie.
Mark Balsillie, 37, is charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of cocaine, possessing cocaine and dealing in the proceeds of crime, following a series of raids by officers from the Trident and Echo taskforces in August 2020.
A Lamborghini Huracan coupe worth nearly $500,000 and two other luxury cars were seized, suspected of being the proceeds of crimes between July 2019 and July 2020.
However, the police use of telephone intercepts and covert listening devices to obtain information from private discussions between Mr Balsillie and his solicitor, Nick Marcevski, is now under investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.
According to the common law right of legal professional privilege, conversations between lawyers and their clients are protected and cannot be used by police for investigative or intelligence purposes. The ability to receive confidential advice from a lawyer that cannot be accessed, intercepted or used by police or prosecutors is considered a sacrosanct part of the administration of justice and the right to a fair trial.
The IBAC probe of police access to communications between Mr Balsillie and his lawyer was raised during a directions hearing in the County Court last week.
Ian Hill, QC, representing Mr Balsillie, asked for the police informant involved in the case to confirm if they are under investigation.
Mr Hill was granted a six-week adjournment for police to comply with the request after a County Court registrar conceded the IBAC investigation could be a “significant issue in this trial”.
An IBAC spokeswoman declined to comment on the probe.