Whittlesea mayor Lawrie Cox has declared his confidence in council chief executive Simon Overland, despite him being embroiled in a Royal Commission into Victoria Police’s recruitment of a lawyer as an informant.
The state government has announced a Royal Commission into Victoria Police’s mismanagement of several high-profile gangland investigations.
It follows revelations that a female criminal barrister was an informer for police from 2005 to 2009.
Mr Overland was a deputy commissioner at the time the lawyer, known as Informer 3838, provided police with information during Melbourne’s gangland war.
The High Court has labelled the police’s use of the informant as “reprehensible conduct”.
Cr Cox said he believed Mr Overland could continue to do his job as council chief executive while giving evidence at the Royal Commission. He was named the council’s chief executive in August 2017.
Cr Cox rejected suggestions Mr Overland should resign from the council, drawing parallels to police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, who has remained in his job despite also being embroiled in the Royal Commission.
He said the Royal Commission should be allowed to unfold like any other court case.
“We don’t even know what the terms of the Royal Commission are,” Cr Cox said.
“[Mr Overland] made us aware at the time of employment of his former life. If something is affecting his ability to do his job then we would look at it, but at the moment there is nothing there.” Cr
Cox said people were “drawing a long bow” by suggesting Mr Overland should step down, adding any councillors that held that view were “playing politics”.
Deputy mayor Tom Joseph backed Cr Cox’s stance saying he had confidence in the chief executive, while Cr Caz Monteleone said Mr Overland was performing well.
Cr Monteleone said the council should only consider asking Mr Overland to stand down if information comes to light that affects his ability to work for the council.