Coun­cil rebels: It’s all over, Si­mon


Herald Sun - - NEWS - Over­land at his home in Rich­mond this week. Pic­ture: JA­SON ED­WARDS STEPHEN DRILL, AN­THONY DOWSLEY AND PATRICK CARLYON [email protected]

FOR­MER po­lice chief Si­mon Over­land is un­der pres­sure to quit his $400,000-a-year job as chief ex­ec­u­tive of Whit­tle­sea coun­cil, amid safety fears fol­low­ing a death threat.

Four out of 11 Whit­tle­sea coun­cil­lors have called for the for­mer chief com­mis­sioner to step down.

Coun­cil­lors Ricky Kirkham, Alahna De­si­ato, Norm Kelly and Caz Mon­teleone say Mr Over­land, likely to be a ma­jor wit­ness at a royal com­mis­sion into the Lawyer X po­lice in­for­mant scan­dal, should step aside for ratepay­ers’ sake.

It comes amid rev­e­la­tions last night that Vic­to­ria Po­lice spent $4.52 mil­lion in le­gal costs try­ing to stop the Lawyer X scan­dal be­com­ing pub­lic.

“Our pri­or­ity through­out has been the safety of the lawyer and her fam­ily who we feared would be mur­dered if iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion was re­leased,” a Vic­to­ria Po­lice spokes­woman said.

The Whit­tle­sea coun­cil­lors plan to move a mo­tion to sack Mr Over­land at the next coun­cil meet­ing if he re­fuses to quit.

But Whit­tle­sea mayor Lawrie Cox is back­ing his chief ex­ec­u­tive, who he said was a vic­tim of “party pol­i­tics”.

A coun­cil cus­tomer ser­vice of­fi­cer re­ceived a death threat af­ter Mr Over­land’s ap­point­ment in Au­gust last year.

Cr De­si­ato said she was con­cerned that crim­i­nals could at­tack Mr Over­land at a coun­cil meet­ing.

“He should re­sign,” she said. “This puts coun­cil­lors and staff in an awk­ward po­si­tion.” Cr Kelly said Mr Over­land could not “do his du­ties” while be­ing the sub­ject of a royal com­mis­sion, and he had up­set some dan­ger­ous peo­ple.

“We’re not talk­ing about peo­ple who have stolen a packet of chewy at a milk bar. These are hard­ened crim­i­nals,” Cr Kelly said.

Mr Over­land was Vic­to­ria Po­lice deputy com­mis­sioner when Lawyer X was used as a po­lice in­former in an at­tempt to end Mel­bourne’s bloody un­der­world war.

He held reg­u­lar meet­ings with Lawyer X and is re­ported to have dis­missed con­cerns about us­ing her as a source.

The Her­ald Sun re­vealed Lawyer X re­ceived a $2.9 mil­lion pay­out from Vic­to­ria Po­lice, and that se­nior of­fi­cers were “very wor­ried” she would re­veal how they used her.

She claimed to have pro­vided in­for­ma­tion that led to the ar­rest of, or lay­ing of charges against, 386 peo­ple. Those con­victed with the use of in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by her could now ap­peal, and pos­si­bly seek com­pen­sa­tion.

Cr Kirkham said Mr Over­land should “stand down or re­sign”, and Cr Mon­teleone said he was con­cerned for his safety. But Cr Cox said he was the only spokesman for the coun­cil, and Mr Over­land had the coun­cil’s full sup­port.

“These peo­ple are play­ing party pol­i­tics. Si­mon Over­land has been op­er­at­ing ex­tremely ef­fec­tively as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer,” he said.

Cr Cox said the four coun­cil­lors did not have the num­bers to roll Mr Over­land.

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