One of the country's top QCs feared Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson would bring down the Chief Justice with him if he was forced to resign.

That is one of the revelations in an extraordinary 50-page email trail - obtained by the Herald - that led to Justice Wilson becoming the first judge to face a Judicial Conduct Panel.

Click here to read the email correspondence.

Acting Attorney-General Judith Collins appointed the panel to investigate Justice Wilson's disclosures about his business relationship with Queen's Counsel Alan Galbraith.

Justice Wilson is seeking a court ruling to stop the panel inquiry, arguing that his alleged misconduct did not meet the threshold of being a sackable offence.

The emails are between Dr Jim Farmer, QC, and retired appellate judge Sir Edmund (Ted) Thomas, written in the six months before Sir Edmund made a complaint about Justice Wilson to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

In one email, Dr Farmer wrote: "That is why I say that not only is Sian [Elias, the Chief Justice] herself in a difficult position but that Bill will, if he is forced to resign, be likely to implicate Sian in the whole thing and in effect assert that he has had some sort of clearance from her."

Later, Dr Farmer says he would be loyal to friends above concerns about the integrity of the system.

"While I have no brief for Bill, I do regard Sian as a close friend and I will always put friendship and loyalty above concerns about the 'system' which has its own processes for looking after itself."

He writes in the same email: "I am not very happy ... that you have told Sian that Colin [Carruthers, QC], Alan and I all think that Bill should resign even though that is the fact."

Mr Carruthers - who is now representing Justice Wilson in this matter - appeared to indicate in an interview with Radio New Zealand in early June that he was never of that view.

In July last year, Sir Edmund told Dame Sian about what he knew. Although Sir Edmund said the Chief Justice was "sick to her stomach", she felt she could not act unless she had a formal complaint from Sir Edmund's source (Dr Farmer).

As time passed and Sir Edmund pressed Dr Farmer to come forward, the emails between the two good friends became strained.

When Dr Farmer suggested that Sir Edmund might have leaked information to a controversial blogger, the retired judge replied that the comment made him "unbelievably angry".

"I note that you are distressed. You sound like Weatherston," Sir Edmund wrote, referring to Clayton Weatherston, the man found guilty of killing Sophie Elliott.

"We are all distressed. Those who have expressly used the word 'sick' to describe how they felt about this whole sorry business include you, me, the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General. To make matters worse, it is a distress that could have been avoided if Alan had followed your original advice and tabled the true facts with the Chief Justice at the outset."

Also in the emails:

* Sir Edmund wanted the matter dealt with for the sake of the integrity of the justice system. Dr Farmer was conflicted, having a professional duty to Mr Galbraith, whom he was advising on the matter, as well as being close friends with him and Dame Sian. Dr Farmer had briefed Sir Edmund and sought his advice on how he should advise Mr Galbraith.

* The Chief Justice was slow to deal with the matter.

* Both Sir Edmund and Dr Farmer were keen to protect Mr Galbraith from fallout. Mr Galbraith, as an officer of the court, had a duty to inform the court if he thought it was being misled by Justice Wilson regarding their business relationship.

* Sir Edmund believed if Justice Wilson did not go, Dr Farmer, Mr Carruthers and Mr Galbraith should not be able to appear before the judge.