One of the top prosecutors in New South Wales has been forced to stand aside and will face an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation over claims she attempted to pervert the course of justice.
Margaret Cunneen, SC, deputy senior crown prosecutor, allegedly told Sophia Tilley, the girlfriend of her son, Stephen Wyllie, to “pretend to have chest pains” following a car accident on May 31, in an attempt to prevent police obtaining a blood alcohol test at the scene.
ICAC’s public inquiry, Operation Hale, will begin on November 10 and investigate the allegations that Cunneen “counselled” Tilley “with the intention to pervert the course of justice”.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has announced that Cunneen will stand aside and not be involved in any further prosecutions until the ICAC hearing is resolved.
Cunneen was prosecutor in the Bilal Skaf gang rape case and in 2012 was appointed by former premier Barry O’Farrell to investigate child sex abuse allegations in the Newcastle area as part of a special inquiry. Her report was completed the day before the accident.
More recently she appeared before the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to defend her role in advising against the prosecution of former Australian swimming coach Scott Volkers.
Cuneen’s strong ties to the local legal community mean that former Queensland Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commissioner, Alan MacSporran, QC, will come to Sydney as commissioner at the ICAC inquiry.
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