Council rebels: It’s all over, Simon
BID TO SACK OVERLAND OVER INFORMANT
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.