Thursday, May 17, 2007

Defence in Basi-Virk demands Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino be cross-examined on Erik Bornmann immunity deal

Cross-exam of prosecutor requested



The defence wants to cross-examine the Special Prosecutor team in the B.C. Legislature raid case in order to get details on an immunity deal with key Crown witness Erik Bornmann, B.C. Supreme Court was told yesterday.

Michael Bolton, lawyer for former ministerial aide David Basi in the breach of trust and fraud case, told Justice Elizabeth Bennett that the defence needs to take the unusual step of cross-examining Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino and his associate Andrea MacKay on an unwritten agreement with Bornmann.

"I remain very, very troubled by the lack of candour and incomplete nature of the Bornmann transaction," Bolton said.

"That will require cross-examination of Mr. Berardino, unfortunately, and probably Ms. MacKay as well."

It is alleged by the Crown that Bornmann paid Basi and co-accused Bob Virk bribes and offered benefits in exchange for confidential government information on the $1 billion B.C. Rail privatization.

Justice Bennett said she will issue a written judgment on the defence disclosure application June 4.


Bornmann was a lobbyist for one of the bidders, OmniTRAX, while Basi was an aide to then-Finance Minister Gary Collins and Virk to then-Transportation Minister Judith Reid.

The request follows allegations by the defence on Tuesday of political interference in the case by Kelly Reichert, the B.C. Liberal Party’s Executive Director, after disclosure of an RCMP document that says Reichert asked the police not to charge Basi with offences related to dirty tricks because it would “embarrass” the party.

Yesterday it was revealed in the RCMP report that Basi allegedly planned to dump manure on the lawn of B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair and that he organized a protest at the Federation's 2003 convention.

McCullough alleged that Reichert had briefed Premier Gordon Campbell on the matter on June 24, 2005 and that subsequently, no charges were in fact laid.

“We know that in the July 4 Report to Crown Counsel charges aren’t recommended. Well, what happened?” he asked.

Following Justice Bennett's decision on the disclosure application hearing that has just been completed, the defence will launch a Charter of Rights challenge to the case, arguing that abuse of process by the RCMP and Special Prosecutor has jeopardized the accused right to a fair trial.

That application will ask Bennett to throw the case out of court.


Anonymous said...

Good to see you in court these past coupla days - at least some members of the media are paying attention!
Your final comment re: Charter of Rights challenge from the defence raises issues that concern me as this affair drags (deliberately?) on and on.
Is the prosecution deliberately dragging its feet to ensure the defence a successful bid for a mistrial? Are both sides secretly negotiating a plea bargain? Either of these outcomes would ensure that there is no trial, and therefore no disclosure of evidence that might embarass the government. Pardon my paranoia, but that's what really concerns me... do stay on this story!

Anonymous said...

How did the meeting in Prince George go?

Waiting patiently for a report.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for asking - about 100 people were in attendance, showing that there is strong interest in both the Basi-Virk case and the BC Rail privatization deal. For a full account on Opinion250 fo the event please go to:

Both Prince George newspaper were there and I will note their coverage when it appears.

Anonymous said...

A Classic...

"I always knew the Liberals were full of bull, I just didn’t know they made home deliveries."
BT in PG commenting on the allegation that the BC Liberals 'Department of Dirty Deeds' was plotting on plopping a bovine BM on BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair's front lawn.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for the comment - I was rather proud of it myself. And when I said it, I said "bullshit" too!

Anonymous said...

Nice report Bill.

Thanks again for all you've done and are doing.

RossK said...

Mr. T.--

Would be interested to hear your opinion on how successful (or not) you think the defence's pre-trial motions have been.

In fact, might be even more interesting if you were to buttunhole some dispassionate but observant legal beagles (ie. smart and knowledgeable non-pundits) and get them to tell us their opinions


Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Gazetteer. I would suggest that the defence has made an impressive case for significantly more disclosure than has been afforded them to date.

The accused have clearly been denied access to evidence against them, whether through omission or commission, if one takes at face value the information presented, and I have no reason to do otherwise.

I believe Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who has expressed concern about late disclosure and "troubling" problems with the Special Prosecutor's actions at times, will make a strong decision.

As to legal counsel observers, I would respectfully suggest that without their having sat in on significant portions of the disclosure application, they would have a difficult time predicting the results.

So you will have to live with the obeservations of this jailhouse lawyer untrained in the ways of and uncalled to - the bar!

Anonymous said...

macaday said it correctly. Right from the start of this non-trial i suspected a co-opted mistrial. it's a fait a complit.

RossK said...

Thanks for your thoughts Bill.

I would also suggest that they've done a pretty good job, by tying the dirty tricks stuff to the bosses, of leading in to a later....the OmniTrax stuff was all part of the brass-sponsored shenanigans-type defense.

And if we get there, well....

Good point about the observers

Clearly, (unless they are one of Mary's Anon-O-Mice) we don't have anybody hanging around Courtroom 54 day after day like those lawyer bloggers in Chicago who are trying to make names for themselves at the Boo Radler-driven trial of Our Lord in the Crosshairs.

Anonymous said...

Bill something tells me there is more to come in this bizarre case. I heard Clarke Roberts on CBC radio talking about the fraud charges. He stated that the fraud was the fact cn paid more for bc rail then they should have, thus cn was defrauded. Sorry Bill but this is nuts, I think the government gave bc rail away to cn!! Now the latest is somehow cn paid too much!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey where is Clark Roberts? Is he still attending court proceedings on behalf of Gary Collins?

And Bill, what happened to the testimony of John Preissel? Did the Crown try and cross examine him?

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks JD - Clark Roberts has not been at the hearing for quite some time. John Preissel was not cross examined by the Special Prosecutor.

Anonymous said...

So... was Clark Roberts no longer attending due to the fact that his retainer was not finalized?

Bill, I think that you know the answer to that one.

And John Preissel not being cross examined by the Special Prosecutor must mean that his testimony was not being challenged. Thus, Justice Bennett would take his sworn testimony into consideration for her judgement.

Brian Kieran must be quite angry with the lack of action by the Special Prosecutor to defend Preisell's statements to the court about Kieran threatening and intimidating someone who would speak out against the Campbell government. The Defence has already laid a number of hits into Kieran's character in a preliminary hearing!

Quite amazing. I wonder what the these lobbyist are thinking these days....

Anonymous said...

Given that we must wait for two weeks before the court case begins again, what do we "know" today.

Well, we know that Mr. Berardino has disappeared and as such, does not protest at all.

We know that Minister Coleman protests far too much.

And finally and as was noted in the Times Colonist editorial, we know that Premier Campbell protests far too little.

These are three different parts of the puzzle - three different aspects of the tale waiting to unfold.

Anonymous said...

I think that if there is indeed a mistrial, the pressure for a public inquiry will be uncontainable, and, frankly, unavoidable.

Mind, it won't be that easy, either, if it proceeds and the tapes are allowed.

Six months of "no comment", huh?


Anonymous said...

I hope A.G. Tsakumis is right and that there will be a full public airing of the dirty laundry . . . but the coverup has been astonishingly successful to date.

So despite my hopes I too think the result will be a "mutually agreeable mistrial".

And now Andy Orr has resigned. I wonder what's up with that?

Anonymous said...

Mr. A. G. Tsakumis,

Yes, the tapes are indeed interesting given the many and varied "people of note" who are on those tapes with their very frank views on the "realpolitik's" of the day. This, of course, includes the Premier. However, what will be of equal interest are the strategic times where you will find "gaps" in the tapes and "missing" tapes.

Anonymous said...

Bill I have been reading your posts with a great deal of interest. Your contribution in reporting the "goings on" are without doubt essential for all of us who would otherwise have no idea whats happening in Vancouver. As I read everything something struck me, could it be possible that Mr. Bornmann was misled by the rcmp and tricked into admitting he bribed public officials? With all that has happened recently with the rcmp I can't dismiss this theory. I would have never thought this possible but the Arar affair and several other high profile controversies have exposed the dirty tricks the rcmp will use, their motto is "the ends justify the means the truth be dammed!!" I wonder if this Bornmann character was manipulated and himself a victim of the rcmp's machinations. It seems to me the rcmp have so much vested in this case they will do anything to save their hides. As my reference point just look at the comedy playing out in Ottawa where senior officers are all telling different stories on the pension affair.

Anonymous said...

Great coverage Bill! Many thanks for taking the time to cover this trial and all of its twists and turns. I was away for a few weeks and just came back. Your blog let me catch up with all that has happened since I was away. From reading your blog it appears the judge is not very happy with the special prosecutor or the rcmp.