Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Basi-Virk - Defence alleges Premier Gordon Campbell asked accused to leak document - Campbell chief of staff Martyn Brown vigorously denies it

Premier’s chief of staff grilled with defence allegation that Gordon Campbell told ex-aide Bob Virk to leak confidential BC Rail report to media - claim denied by Martyn Brown; full 12 member jury guaranteed for trial

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

A defence lawyer in the B.C. Rail political corruption trial alleged that Premier Gordon Campbell himself asked one of the accused to leak confidential documents to the media and violate his confidentiality agreement.

But the allegation was vigorously denied by the witness giving evidence - Campbell’s Chief of Staff Martyn Brown – as the long-delayed trial resumed with all 12 members of the jury agreeing to continue until the extended March 2011 completion date.

Kevin McCullough, representing former government ministerial aide Bob Virk, alleged that Campbell wanted his client to leak a report from B.C. Rail shippers that could have affected the $1 billion sale of the former Crown corporation in 2003.

“You’re aware the premier instructed Mr. Virk to leak the report – and that Mr. Virk told him he wouldn’t?” McCullough asked Brown.

“That sounds as ludicrous as your previous statement….never in my wildest imagination would the premier do that, but I can’t speak for him,” Brown replied.

Brown had earlier denied McCullough’s allegation that Brown also discussed leaking the report with Virk.

“No, I would never do that,” Brown replied. “I had no knowledge of the shippers’ report.”

Brown said he did not recall alleged telephone conversations with former B.C. deputy minister Chris Trumpy about the shippers’ report, or with former Canfor CEO David Emerson about telling other shippers not to complain to the premier.

“No,” Brown replied. “This is seven years ago.”

Virk and co-accused David Basi face breach of trust and fraud charges for allegedly providing confidential government information about B.C. Rail to lobbyists representing a bidder in exchange for money and benefits. Aneal Basi faces money laundering charges.

The testy exchanges between McCullough and Brown forced B.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anne MacKenzie to excuse the jury several times to hear legal arguments that cannot be reported due to a publication ban.

At one point MacKenzie told the jury: “The evidence is only the answers by witnesses, not the questions or speeches by counsel.”

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.

A fascinating cabinet issues briefing document entered as evidence by the defence was also made available to the media today, the second exhibit of the trial.

Attached to a May 9, 2004 email from premier's office Deputy Chief of Staff for Issue Management Jay Schlosar to Tom Syer, former policy coordination and issues management deputy chief of staff, the 28 page document details proposed answers to media questions about the BC Rail deal and much, much more.

The first question: "How is a 990-year lease not a sale?"

The document goes on to discuss how to answer questions about the firing of David Basi and why Bob Virk was only suspended at that time; the role of Martyn Brown in personnel decisions, why the government won't suspend the BC Rail deal when it's "clearly under investigation", and much more.

The document also gives answer for questions about the strike by Hospital Employees' Union members, the Doug Walls affair that led to cabinet minister Gordie Hogg resigning, Richmond-Airport-Vancouver rapid transit line issues, health ministry concerns and other issues current at the time.



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14 comments:

RossK said...

Bill--

Is that 'cabinet issues briefing document' going to be made available, in full, to the public?

(ie. can you scan and post the entire thing for us to have a look at?)

Thanks.

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Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. Will we (i.e. the BC public) have access to that 28-page document?

Deep Throat said...

Bill:

Given that it is the last refuge of the “Man” with no moral compass, I am assuming that the Defence is keeping count of the “I don’t remember(s)”!

Anonymous said...

The plot thickens. Would like to see exhibits when made available and released.

More fascinatng than the political crap comments made by a few opinion contributors.

Keep the good work goin Bill.

Anonymous said...

I am not a lawyer, but I've watched them on (mostly American) tv.

The one thing that always gets hammered home is that a lawyer is never to ask a question in court to which they do not know the answer.

Which begs the question: What does Kevin McCullough have as real tangible evidence to back up his questions? This is going to be an interesting trial.

Norman Farrell said...

Justice MacKenzie says, “The evidence is only the answers by witnesses, not the questions or speeches by counsel.”

How about comments by witnesses that go beyond the questions, such as referring to the questions asked as ludicrous. Was he cautioned?

I too would love to see that documents providing the official Liberal spin to various questions. Would be revealing.

Another question: Could the secret witness be Gordon Campbell?

Anonymous said...

Could this be a game of Guess Who's Coming to the Witness Stand?

"Never in my wildest imagination would the premier do that, but I can’t speak for him!”

RossK said...

For those who want to read the 28 page 'Cabinet Issues Briefing Document' which, in my opinion is almost like finding a bizarrely transcribed question and answers version of Rosemary Woods' missing 18 and-a-half minutes, "Railgate Edition"....it is now available, in full, here.

Happy reading!

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RossK said...

Sorry all, messed up the link to the cabinet issues briefing document above.

Here it is again.


Apologies.

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BC Mary said...

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RossK & Bill,

a huge THANK YOU for making this 28-page document available.

I'm only on p.6, para #2 and already am bug-eyed with wonderment. It sez the minister "often meets with principles [sic] of organizations seeking to invest in this province."

That's sorta, um, what we've been worried about, sir.

The principles of many organizations seeking to invest in this province are contradictory to the principles of most people who want a greener, gentler, more public-spirited approach to the riches of the province of British Columbia.

Did he mean "principals"?
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Skookum1 said...

The one thing that always gets hammered home is that a lawyer is never to ask a question in court to which they do not know the answer.

Which begs the question: What does Kevin McCullough have as real tangible evidence to back up his questions? This is going to be an interesting trial.


You must watch different US lawyer shows than I do; I don't recall any such thing being hammered home.

And in the case of McCullough's questions, he does know the answers, as does his client, and the rest of us. It's Martyn Brown who's just pretending not to.....

Piece of advice: don't spend money on taking LSATs, you'd fail.

Comparing US law and Canadian law, and respective court practices, is apples and kumquats anyway....

Anonymous said...

"Comparing US law and Canadian law, and respective court practices, is apples and kumquats anyway...."

Agree there. This isn't Night Court or Boston Legal.

Deep Throat said...

My favourite exchange of the day:

Kevin McCullough:
“Mr. Brown, Bob Virk”

Martyn Brown:
“No!”

Kevin McCullough:
“I haven’t asked the question yet.”

Deep Throat said...

Most interesting revelation of the afternoon:

No one person was in control of who got to see the “confidential” BC Rail sale documents while the RFP competition “played out”.