By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
Defence lawyers are alleging that the special prosecutor in a high-profile case where provincial government aides face corruption charges has “allowed political interference to occur.”
Those allegations Friday in B.C. Supreme Court highlighted a testy exchange between defence and Crown in the case of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi, who face charges connected to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail.
Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton argued before Justice Elizabeth Bennett that a court approved protocol to restrict access to evidence seized in a 2003 police raid on the B.C. Legislature was violated by Premier Gordon Campbell’s then deputy minister Ken Dobell and that the special prosecutor was partially to blame.
“We do allege complicity on the part of the special prosecutor in allowing the protocol to be violated,” Bolton said.
Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough made similar charges, which will be heard when the defence argues its Charter of Rights application that could force Campbell to testify in court.
"Milady, I'll give you some food for thought. The Charter application alleges that they [the Crown] have allowed the political interference to occur."
An exasperated special prosecutor Bill Berardino told Bennett that “we haven’t got all the information” from the defence regarding their allegations, making it impossible to respond. Berardino declined comment outside court.
The defence has not filed any information regarding the allegations with the court that is available to the media or public.
And the defence revealed that it has requested an audio tape of an interview between Campbell and Vancouver Province columnist Michael Smyth which formed the basis of a February column where Campbell denied political interference in the case.
"My understanding is that the premier records every interview with the media," Bolton said.
Bolton said the defence has asked for a tape it believes was made by the premier’s office of the interview and also any tape of an interview by Smyth of deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel about the government’s role.
Berardino was not impressed with the defence's complaints.
"I"ve heard this before, where the defence have said all the documents are there - read the submission. We're punching at air," he told Bennett.
But McCullough fired back.
"The defence has always filed applications and submitted materials when we said we would. It rises in the east and sets in the west," McCullough said.
Government lawyer George Copley later told Bennett that there is no government audio tape of the interview with Seckel.
"The deputy did reply to Mr. McCullough's letter and said he did not record the interview with Mr. Smyth but the passages quoted by Mr. Smyth were correct," Copley said.
The pre-trial hearings resume July 14 with the defence filing a Charter of Rights application that could see Campbell, Dobell and other top government officials testify in court about the alleged breach of the protocol.
Meanwhile, no decision has yet been made by the BC Court of Appeal on a hearing that ended last week over the issue of whether defence lawyers can be present to hear information about a potential secret witness.
NOTE - A version of this story will run in 24 hours newspaper on Monday June 23.