Senior Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen has launched an urgent court action to prevent the corruption watchdog from investigating claims she perverted the course of justice.
Ms Cunneen, who has stood aside as NSW deputy senior crown prosecutor, is challenging the ICAC’s power to launch an inquiry into her conduct.
She stepped down last week after the watchdog announced it was investigating claims she and her son Stephen Wyllie advised Mr Wyllie’s girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to pretend to have chest pains to avoid a blood alcohol test at a car crash scene.
Ms Tilley allegedly took the advice.
Ms Cunneen denies what she’s described as the “malicious” allegations made to the watchdog.
Her barrister Arthur Moses SC will on Wednesday argue that the allegations are beyond the ICAC’s jurisdiction.
The legal challenge was launched in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday and is due to be heard again on Wednesday.
The court challenge comes after former Supreme Court judge David Levine, QC, who is now the Inspector of the ICAC, reportedly asked the commission to justify its inquiry into Ms Cunneen.
Mr Levine’s audit requires ICAC to hand over material related to the investigation.
Former Queensland Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commissioner Alan MacSporran QC will preside over the three-day public inquiry starting on November 10, should Ms Cunneen’s legal challenge be unsuccessful.
A prosecutor since 1990, Ms Cunneen rose to prominence for her work in putting away pedophile Robert “Dolly” Dunn and several gang rapists, including Bilal Skaf.
She was appointed senior counsel in 2007 and was later elected by her peers as one of the 21 members of the Bar Council of NSW.
Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell picked her to head a special commission of inquiry into claims of police interference in police investigations into alleged pedophile priests in the NSW Hunter.
She handed down her findings on May 30, the day before Ms Tilley was involved in the crash.
Ms Cunneen thanked her supporters outside court on Tuesday.
“I do want to take the opportunity to thank everyone on behalf of my son Stephen and his partner Sophia for all of their heartfelt support and love, which has been so wonderful at this difficult time,” she said.