Former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery QC has resigned as the chair of the White Ribbon board after ABC documentary Exposed aired comments he made about convicted baby killer Keli Lane’s sex life.
Mr Cowdery told the program he believed Lane was not a threat to the general community because there was no risk she would harm other children.
“She seemed to be a bit of a risk to the virile young male portion of the community,” Mr Cowdery said.
“That’s not grounds for putting her in prison, of course.”
A statement from White Ribbon, a non-for-profit organisation which calls itself “Australia’s campaign to prevent men’s violence against women”, said Mr Cowdery had decided to stand down “in order to deflect adverse attention away from White Ribbon Australia which was attracted by reason of a comment he made in a program aired by ABC”.
“Mr Cowdery is keen to support White Ribbon Australia and wishes it well in its future endeavours.
“The board would like to thank Mr Cowdery for his dedicated leadership and advocacy of the organisation’s objectives over the past two years.”
“White Ribbon Australia’s chair, Nicholas Cowdery AM QC, acknowledges that his comments and response to questions about Keli Lane on ABC documentary Exposed were not respectful, and he apologises,” a statement read.
“Mr Cowdery supports the need for every person to be mindful of the language that they use and the meaning it can have.”
Lane was convicted of killing her two-day-old baby daughter in 2010 based on circumstantial evidence, including a series of lies she told about three secret pregnancies, which resulted in two adoptions, and one child who mysteriously disappeared.
The child’s body has never been found and Lane maintains her innocence.
Throughout the trial much was made in the media of Lane’s sex life, with the public baffled about how she fell pregnant three times in four years, and carried children to term with no-one, including her partner, apparently knowing.
During the documentary series Lane alleged she had been sexually assaulted as a teenager and that may have been the start of her pattern of repeatedly falling pregnant.
Meanwhile the RMIT University Innocence Initiative is calling on New South Wales Attorney-General Mark Speakman to order an urgent review into the Lane case and an investigation into the policing and prosecutorial practices leading up to the trial.
In a statement, the Innocence Initiative said the ABC documentary series revealed information that cast doubt over the adequacy of the police investigation and the fairness of her trial.
It said Lane’s conviction was based on a flawed police investigation and trial process.