A FORMER federal attorney-general, retired Supreme Court judge and voluntary euthanasia advocate is to be investigated for alleged contempt of court.
Kep Enderby, a former federal Labor MP for Canberra, was until four months ago president of the NSW Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
He claimed that Shirley Justins and Caren Jenning had been offered a deal by the prosecution some time before their trial. The deal offered to drop the more serious murder and manslaughter charges if the women pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Mr Wylie's suicide.
Nine days into the trial, Justins agreed to plead guilty to assisting Mr Wylie's suicide, while Jenning pleaded guilty to importing the drug Nembutal into Australia. But by then the Crown no longer offered to drop the other charges.
Mr Enderby said he had passed the information about the deal on to the society which had "inadvertently" put this up on its website, where it remained during the trial. The jury had been instructed not to search the internet in relation to the case.
Justice Roderick Howie, who presided over the trial, said - in the absence of the jury - he would refer Mr Enderby to the Solicitor-General for contempt of court.
At another time during the trial, Mr Enderby commented loudly about the evidence, and Justice Howie warned him, saying, "You ought to know better".
Mr Enderby said yesterday he had not been aware that his comments had been published. He believed nothing would come of the referral to the Solicitor-General, Michael Sexton, SC.
In other information on the organisation's website, Mr Enderby appealed for donations for Jenning's legal fighting fund and said: "I am convinced that she has committed no crime."
The website also contained an email from Jenning's solicitor to Mr Enderby, outlining the case. Jenning's solicitor, Sam Macedone, said he did not know his letter had been published on the internet, and Justice Howie did not refer this matter to the Solicitor-General.
Mr Enderby said he had to temper his comments about the verdict because he was so angry and might risk further contempt charges if he spoke his mind.
He said: "A monstrous wrong has been done to these very fine women who have led blameless lives and conscientiously believed that what they were doing was in the interest of this man whom they both admired and loved and wanted to help."
Philip Nitschke's partner, Dr Fiona Stewart, who is writing a book about this case, was also warned by Justice Howie not to take notes in court or discuss what she had heard with Dr Nitschke