Thursday, May 10, 2007

No written immunity deal for Bornmann, Crown claims in Basi-Virk trial - to defence disbelief; case adjourns till Tuesday

Crown opposes defence request for Special Prosecutor statement on what happened with Bornmann immunity deal in Basi-Virk case

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours

[NOTE: this is a longer unedited version of a story written for Friday's 24 hours.]

Key Crown witness Erik Bornmann has no written immunity from prosecution agreement in the B.C. Legislature raid case, a special prosecutor told B.C. Supreme Court Thursday.

That provoked an exasperated response from defence lawyers, who are demanding that senior Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino make a statement on what they still call a Crown immunity deal.

Justice Elizabeth Bennett got the surprise answer from Special Prosecutor Janet Winteringham, who has handled most Crown duties during Berardino’s unexplained absence from the proceedings.

“The only question I had – was there an immunity agreement as outlined in Crown policy and the answer is there was not. But there’s no written agreement signed by Mr. Bornmann?” Bennett asked.

“No, there’s not, “Winteringham replied.

Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, the ex-ministerial aide charged with breach of trust and fraud for alleging giving lobbyist Bornmann secret government documents in the $1 billion B.C. Rail sale, said there is a deal.

“There’s got to be full disclosure of the deal between Mr. Bornmann and Mr. Berardino on immunity,” Bolton said. "What were the inducements in this deal to Mr. Bornmann to change his statement and give the statements he gave in April implicating my client? I need that in order to properly defend my client."

But Winteringham said no to the request for Berardino to hold forth.

“Just so it’s clear, the Crown opposes an order to have Mr. Berardino make a statement on this issue,” Winteringham said. "I’ve spoken to Mr. Berardino, since he can’t be here, and that is his position."

The case has adjourned until Tuesday May 15 at 9:30 a.m. and will only sit Tuesday and Wednesday next week due to legal counsel scheduling conflicts.

8 comments:

Moira said...

What is this, some third world banana republic!! There is no written immunity deal nudge nudge wink wink! Yeah right. Was Bornmann told not to say anything about campbell and his cronies so Pilothouse could continue their lucrative lobbying business with the campbell government? After all if these guys made $298,000 from Omnitraxx for 14 months surely they were also raking it in with other clients? Did this immunity deal nudge nudge wink wink also mean Bornmann and co. would keep the investigation away from senior officials in campbells office? More questions Bill, more troubling and disturbing questions!

Budd Campbell said...

So, there is no written agreement. Is there an oral agreement? What are its terms, and how is it enforced?

Michael Thompson said...

Bill,

There seems to be some confusion as to what the Crown's position will be about the deals for Bornmann and Kieran.

The Sun states that Berardino will appear at court to answer questions where as you write that Berardino has told his junior that he will not appear.

Can you explain the apparent contradictions?

Bill Tieleman said...

Happy to try to explain. First, and most importantly, it is up to Justice Bennett to decide, not Mr. Berardino, what the Special Prosecutor will do.

Second, Ms Winteringham said the Crown opposes having Mr. Berardino submit a written statement on the deal issue. That does not necessarily mean he could not speak in court about it.

As Neal Hall's Sun story notes:

"I understood he was prepared to come and answer questions about it," the judge replied.

We will know next week.

Michael Thompson said...

Thank you Bill.

It seems as though the Sun is playing somewhat fast and loose with the court statements.

I have read elsewhere on this blog the appreciation for reporting much more detail so that the public can be well informed.

Thanks again Bill.

MT

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for the kind comments Michael but I don't think there is anything "fast and loose" with the Sun's report - just a different view than mine. You have to remember that different reporters may be in court for different comments and also understand things differently.

Gazetteer said...

Mr. T. et al.,

Do you all have any insight into why the Big Cheese Mr. Berardino can't be there in Car 54 these days?

.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Gazetteer - absolutely no explanation has been forthcoming. I asked Janet Winteringham point blank outside court and she would only say he is "away from the office".

Certainly it's my sense that it would have been very difficult for Berardino to deal with parts of the defence criticism of his role and actions but he is a veteran lawyer and a capable one.

I will continue to inquire and you'll hear about it right here.