«We’ve done all we can, we’ve taken it through the legal process … and we’ve sort of lost every step of the way,» Mr Ashton said.
«Obviously we’re still concerned about the safety of the person given the nature of the matters she was talking to police about. We’re still working to try and make sure we are doing everything we can to try make sure that person is safe.»
While police argue the danger to the former criminal barrister is extreme, her identity is an open secret in the underworld.
The royal commission into her handling, the directors of the Victorian and Commonwealth prosecutions and the media have all argued that the public interest outweighs the safety risk to the mother of two. But Mr Ashton maintains there are still «significant» risks to her safety.
«I’ve got a duty to make sure that anyone who gives us information about criminal offending, regardless of whether it was yesterday or 20 years ago … that we do everything we can to ensure they don’t incur any risk to their safety and all the assessments in relation to Lawyer X showed there were significant safety risks,» he said
«This [her identity] will be broadcast very broadly. People will see her face in the paper or in electronic media and they’ll know what the person looks like so from the point of view of recognising people in the street … it becomes another layer we have to look at.»
The convictions of notorious underworld figures, including drug traffickers Tony Mokbel and Rob Karam, are now in doubt.
The Age reported on Friday that police have spent millions over the past five years to try and keep Informer 3838’s identity from being known.
Mr Ashton would not be drawn into estimating a total cost of all the legal proceedings only saying it would have been «at least hundreds of thousands of dollars».
«I haven’t done a total tally of every single aspect of that to date but it’s [been] expensive,» he said.
Lawyers for Mr Ashton went back to the High Court again last week in a final failed bid to keep Informer 3838’s name from ever being published.
The High Court has already ruled that the public interest in releasing her real name outweighed the risk to her safety.
Mr Ashton also moved to defend police’s handling of the investigation into Cardinal George Pell who was convicted in December of sexually abusing two choirboys and the suppression order which kept Pell’s conviction under wraps until Tuesday.
«We’ve never been a part of leaking anything,» Mr Ashton told 3AW. «We reject that we’ve done anything inappropriate, we’ve just tried to treat it like any other case.»
Mr Ashton was also asked about his view of comments in court by Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter that his client’s crimes were «no more than a plain vanilla» offence.
“Well we certainly don’t treat them as plain vanilla offending,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot in terms of investigating sexual offending over the last 10 years, there’s been a lot of reforms in that area.»
With Tammy Mills
Melissa Cunningham reports breaking news for The Age.