Victoria Police's media department believed they could weather the Lawyer X storm when the story broke and Cardinal George Pell would knock it off the front pages.
When news emerged in 2014 that police had recruited a barrister as an informer - not yet named as Nicola Gobbo - police chose silence over active damage control.
"Unless there are some serious appeals from convicted crims which might get up as a result of this, then I can't see this continuing with the same level of profile," Charlie Morton, the police media unit's now-director, wrote in an email to Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton.
"There will be more, but I suspect we can weather it."
Earlier this year Faruk Orman had his conviction for the 2004 murder of Victor Peirce overturned after it was revealed Ms Gobbo played a key role in the prosecution case against him.
Four other crooks including drug kingpin Tony Mokbel also have appeals underway.
Mr Morton also told Mr Ashton that Pell - who was due to give evidence at the royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse - would "knock this way off the front page".
The emails were revealed on Wednesday with Mr Ashton giving a third day of evidence at the Lawyer X royal commission in Melbourne.
Outside the inquiry he maintained he'd acted appropriately, rejecting criticisms of his leadership.
"I've taken the actions that were required of me at all times ... I reported it to my superior officer," he said.
Mr Ashton said processes were in place to ensure this type of incident "wouldn't get to that stage now" but would not say police are not still recruiting lawyers as informers.
"It's not for me to guarantee. I don't confirm or deny anything in relation to human sources," he said.
The inquiry has heard at least one other lawyer, who can not be named, was an informer.
Ms Gobbo broke her silence on the scandal on Tuesday in an interview that blindsided her lawyer.
Rishi Nathwani last week argued Ms Gobbo was too unwell to testify at the inquiry, prompting questions from Commissioner Margaret McMurdo about the lawyer's tell-all on the ABC 730 program.
"I would like to know why the commission was not informed ... she was flying to an international destination and giving a lengthy interview to nationwide media," she asked.
Mr Nathwani replied: "It was not within my knowledge at all."
In it Ms Gobbo claimed the perception she was trying to avoid giving evidence was frustrating.
She has been ordered to give evidence by phone starting on January 29 and risks prosecution if she fails to comply.
Mr Nathwani later pressed Mr Ashton on Ms Gobbo's claims she'd been threatened with police removing her children if she returned to Australia.
Mr Ashton said police had a responsibility to notify child protection authorities about children they believed were at risk.
Australian Associated Press
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