Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Political operatives want to stay secret, new witness named who sought anonymity at Basi-Virk BC Court of Appeal hearing

Political operatives, new witness tried to shield identities in BC Legislature raid case; BC Court of Appeal reserves judgment on secret witness issue

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

5:30 p.m. - Several “political operatives” and an individual with information about key Crown witness Erik Bornmann and the Liberal Party have all tried to shield their identities from the public in the B.C. Legislature raid case, the B.C. Court of Appeal was told Wednesday.

The new information came from defence counsel testimony in a hearing over a secret witness in the trial of three provincial government aides facing corruption charges.

Special Prosecutor Bill Bearardino is asking the court to overturn a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that defence lawyers be present to hear the testimony of a secret witness in the trial of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.

Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton told a three-judge panel that several potential witnesses have attempted to remain unnamed.

“Someone who has material evidence – one of the political operatives there are so many of who have requested anonymity – the defence will have no opportunity for response in providing a full defence,” Bolton said.

And Aneal Basi’s lawyer Joe Doyle named another potential witness who was denied secret status.

“Mr. Jas Sekhon wanted to be a police informant,” Doyle said. “He goes on to describe details about the Liberal Party and Bornmann – I won’t go into that.”

Outside court Doyle declined to identify Sekhon further or confirm exact spelling of the name or say which Liberal Party – federal or provincial – he was referring to.

Former provincial lobbyist Erik Bornmann is the Crown’s key witness in the case.

Berardino defended the Crown’s position on the secret witness request.

“If we could give the court a three to four minute synopsis it would be crystal clear why defence counsel should be excluded,” he said.

Berardino argued that Justice Elizabeth Bennett, the presiding judge in the BC Supreme Court case of Basi, Virk and Basi, had erred in ruling the defence lawyers could be in the courtroom to hear testimony about the secret witness from police.

"There is no evidence for the trial judge to make such a finding," Berardino said. "The Crown has never said this is not a clear case of a confidential police informant....we have refrained from it."

Berardino also said the defence had exaggerated the degree of secrecy that would result from the witness giving testimony in the absence of counsel for the accused.

"All of the information at the in-camera hearing - without identifying the informant - would be disclosed to the defence," he told the court.

It appeared initially that the three-person panel of judges might issue an immediate ruling late in the afternoon.

Chief Justice Lance Finch told the courtroom that he, Justice Ian Donald and Justice Catherine Ryan required a break because: "We're not quite clear howe we're going to do this."

But after a 25-minute recess Finch came back to say that judgment in the three-day hearing would be reserved, with no timeline for that decision.

BC Supreme Court Justice Bennett will hold a case update on June 20 and is scheduled to reconvene the pre-trial hearing on June 30.

It is unclear whether the Court of Appeal will issue a decision before either date or whether it could have an impact on the BC Supreme Court proceeding.

NOTE - A shorter version of this story will appear in 24 hours newspaper on Thursday.


Anonymous said...

Finally a startling image begins to unfold as to the real issue behind this alleged "informant".

Once again:


Gazetteer said...

'Several' political operatives?


Is there a potential Johnny Dean hiding in there amongst that bunch?

(heckfire, at this point I'd even settle for a cut-rate Scottie McClellan)


North Van's Grumps said...

When are the lawyers going to start calling a spade a spade rather than saying that they have a witness who is a "police informant"...... they make it sound as if the witness is a crook. If he's a political operative working, or did work, in the dungeons of a BC Liberal think tank, why not just call him a whistle blower and be done with it. There is legislation in place that covers whistleblowers, although the author of the legislation (Gordo) never intended it to be used against him to prove that three of his aides were doing something that would bring the law into the legislative buildings.

Anonymous said...

Where is Michael Morton (Gordo's former Communications Guy) in all this? His name doesn't appear but he must know a lot about what was going on.
Bill, you may be able to sell this as a crime novel--if it ever ends.

It's certainly a crime how our taxes are being wasted.

Anonymous said...

If Basigate was left to run its course like a conventional influence peddling and corruption trial it would have be over two years ago, and now "we" would be working through appeals.

But in BC, where we have over a decade of Liberal "On The Take" federal & provincial judicial and crown appointments ... it is just one big Third World Septic Tank.

I'm surprised Greg "the dead dog" from Saanich (of Martinite phoney memberships imfamy)has not come back from the pet after-life looking to cut a deal on turning stoolie.(Dogs & Spiders)

"We Only Cheat When We Can't Win" is truly the motto of the Liberal Party.


DL said...

It's a fact of life that lawyers make a lot of money protecting their clients, who usually pay the bills. In this case, the people we elected are getting the funds from all the tax payers and that is a very deep set of pockets. We all find it sort of sleazy but that's what the legal guys do for a living. We can all speculate just who they are working to protect, and we all have some ideas who that might be. Saying so gets one sued or put the blogger in a position of her or him getting sued. A crown prosecutor is put there by a supposedly, independent of government interference system. It may be planned to grind on past the next election, who knows? Not me for sure. Only in BC could the Legislature get raided and years later we really don't have much of a clue who if anyone is the wrong guys. Toss in a thousand year lease on a railway that was making money for us all but just had to go and we now see the mess. We live in interesting times. Money always talks and the more involved the bigger the hush factor, throw in a few friends of friends and it really gets weird. I look forward to the actual trial with interest. I figure the judge has a similar interest.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, Canwest loses a libel suit, and covers it up. However, it was a local weekly owned by them which did the dirty.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:04 pm. That link doesn't work. Probably not surprising.

NRF said...

Does anyone believe this affair will not end by charges being stayed? With due respect to Mr. Berardino, is he truly independent of the Campbell Government if his law firm bills substantial fees after acting for provincial crown for this and other cases?

NRF said...

"Canwest loses a libel suit, and covers it up..."

The link takes a reader to the judgement by J. Grauer, in favour of a family that was libeled in the Abbotsford/Mission Times. Damages exceeded $200,000. I have seen no reporting of the case in our major newspapers. Wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Bill could you please post on your site the government records application the defense lawyers filed last week. Mark Hume did a front page story in the Globe and Mail.

In keeping with all your efforts in this case it would allow a lot of us to read the application to stay better informed about the depths to which campbell and his gang will sink to keep valuable and important information out of the hands of the defendants and the people of BC.

Thanks Bill.

North Van's Grumps said...

As much as the public (especially those on BC political blogs) is tiring of the many delays during the pre-trial deliberations regarding Basi/Virk, have we forgotten that to proceed with the actual TRIAL, there must be a means to find jury material that hasn't been tampered with by the Press. "Press" being blogs and daily newspapers/television (which all have their own blogs as well speaking out on the subject).

Is this what is going to break the camel's back and send Basi/Virk (and their defence team) packing their bags for well funded vacations, paid for by taxpayers?