Quit now, we’re scared - coun­cil plea to ex-cop

The Advertiser - - NEWS - STEPHEN DRILL AN­THONY DOWSLEY

SI­MON Over­land is un­der pres­sure to quit his $400,000 a year Melbourne coun­cil job, amid safety fears fol­low­ing a death threat to the for­mer cop.

Four of 11 Whit­tle­sea coun­cil­lors have called for him to step down as coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive amid a royal com­mis­sion into Vic­to­ria’s Lawyer X po­lice in­for­mant scan­dal.

Coun­cil­lors Ricky Kirkham, Alahna De­si­ato, Norm Kelly and Caz Mon­teleone say that Mr Over­land, who will be a key fig­ure in the probe, needed to step aside for the sake of the ratepay­ers. They plan to move to sack him at the next coun­cil meet­ing if he refuses to quit.

But Whit­tle­sea Mayor Lawrie Cox has lined up be­hind the for­mer Vic­to­ria po­lice com­mis­sioner, say­ing he was a vic­tim of “party pol­i­tics.”

Cr De­si­ato said she was con­cerned that crim­i­nals would tar­get 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 that he had up­set some dan­ger­ous peo­ple.

“We’re not talk­ing about

We’re not talk­ing about peo­ple who have stolen a packet of chewy from a milk bar, these are hard­ened crim­i­nals.

peo­ple who have stolen a packet of chewy from a milk bar, these are hard­ened crim­i­nals,” he said. Mr Over­land was a deputy com­mis­sioner at Vic­to­ria Po­lice when a gang­land lawyer was used as a po­lice in­former in a des­per­ate at­tempt to end Melbourne’s bloody un­der­world war. He held reg­u­lar meet­ings with Lawyer X and al­legedly dis­missed con­cerns about us­ing her as a source.

But The Ad­ver­tiser re­vealed this week Lawyer X re­ceived a $2.9 mil­lion pay­out from Vic­to­ria Po­lice be­cause se­nior of­fi­cers were “very wor­ried” that she would re­veal how they user her.

She pro­vided in­for­ma­tion that led to the ar­rest or charge of 386 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Tony Mok­bel. All those con­victed us­ing her in­for­ma­tion, which was gained un­der le­gal priv­i­lege, could ap­peal their cases and po­ten­tially seek com­pen- sa­tion. Mr Over­land has a stran­gle­hold grip on the coun­cil op­er­a­tions, dic­tat­ing that all coun­cil­lors speak di­rectly to him, not coun­cil staff.

Cr Kirkham said Mr Over­land should walk.

“I be­lieve he should stand down or re­sign,” he said.

“I was mayor dur­ing the re­cruit­ment process of Si­mon and I raised con­cerns. Af­ter he was ap­pointed in Au­gust, the coun­cil re­ceived death threats fol­low­ing the pub­lic an­nounce­ment of his role. As CEO, he still has a pub­lic role. “It’s to­tally dis­tract­ing and I’m hop­ing he see what he’s do­ing is prob­lem­atic or I be­lieve we should force the de­ci­sion.”

Mr Mon­teleone told The Ad­ver­tiser that he was con­cerned for his safety.

“I be­lieve there should be a safety as­sess­ment, I’d have to as­sess whether I would go to meet­ings,” he said. An email from Cr Kirkham to Mr Over­land, seen by The Ad­ver­tiser, de­mands he ex­plain his ac­tions to the coun­cil and raises con­cerns that staff may not be safe if the for­mer po­lice boss at­tends events.

The email, sent on Thurs­day at 9.10am, claims that coun­cil staff have re­ceived death threats on be­half of Mr Over­land, with some coun­cil­lors re­fus­ing to at­tend events if he was there.

Pic­ture: JA­SON EDWARDS

NORM KELLY TOP JOB: Si­mon Over­land out­side his Melbourne home.

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