Thursday, January 31, 2008

Basi-Virk defence demands BC government disclose secret documents; says still more emails missing

Lawyers in the B.C. Legislature raid case are demanding the provincial government waive assertions of privilege on a series of documents related to the $1 billion sale of B.C Rail that they says are critical to defend their clients.

And the defence says still more emails that should have been disclosed as evidence are missing. It was revealed early this week in B.C. Supreme Court that up to 140 emails had not been disclosed and that a hard drive apparently seized in the 2003 search of the Legislature was wrongly found in the court registry.

Former provincial ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk face breach of trust charges for alleging leaking confidential B.C. Rail documents to a lobbyist for one of the bidders.

Michael Bolton, counsel for Basi, said the government position argued by lawyer George Copley of claiming cabinet or solicitor-client privilege over the emails is delaying the trial.

“I am going to urge that the special prosecutor assert to the government, to the cabinet, to Mr. Copley that privilege be waived over these documents so we can get on with this trial,” Bolton said. “We’ve had serious, serious problems.”

Bolton said the trial had previously heard: “The premier’s comments in the House last May that there’s going to be openness and the special prosecutor will get what he needs.”

Virk’s lawyer Kevin McCullough argued that emails continue to be missing, including from personal Blackberry devices.

“There’s serious concern, looking at everything there, that there are emails missing,” McCullough said. "We don't have the Blackberry files."

The court also heard a clarification from Justice Elizabeth Bennett about how she had discovered a mystery computer hard drive in the Supreme Court Registry, which she reported on Tuesday.

"I did not go to the registry looking under a desk covered in cobwebs," Bennett said, adding that the registry clerk found the hard drive after Bennett called.

Crown prosecutor Janet Winteringham told Bennett on Thursday the hard drive is a "mirror-image" copy of other computers taken Dec. 28, 2003, when the B.C. legislature was raided. It was apparently booked into the registry's vault in March 2004 but should have been disclosed to the defence.

McCullough complained that there appear to be two standards for police when dealing with computer records, one for the accused and another for the two lobbyists accused of bribing Basi and Virk - Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran - who turned key crown witnesses and face no charges.

"My client's position is going to be that emails are missing - that clearly indicates the originals must be checked," he said to Bennett .

"So are you saying that there was a flaw in the duplication process or that emails were deleted before the hard drives were seized," she asked.

"I don't know, milady," McCullough responded. "When it came to Mr. Bornmann and Mr. Kieran and a corrupted hard drive the police made no real effort to correct it compared to Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk's computers."

Then, referring to a third defence disclosure request for more evidence, McCullough seemed to warn of future fireworks in court: "I don't bring this application wihtout a mountain of problems to support it."

The hearing resumes February 18 at 9 a.m. for a one hour session to deal with the privilege questions over the emails. The trial remains scheduled to begin on March 17.

NOTE: A shorter version of this story was published by 24 hours newspaper Friday February 1, 2008.


Anonymous said...

Looks like another day of revelations. One wonders just how much stuff the governemtn will claim is cabinet information and shpould not be released. But if they are Cabinet documents the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled before on another case that they will appear. Feb 14 might bring us something of interest

BC Mary said...


Thanks for another good report, Bill. But no Bill Berardino, no explanation, no progress?

So we must wait almost 3 more weeks for another 1-hour hearing ... Lord, give us strength.

Perhaps it's a very small thing, but I took it as a hopeful sign that the CP story on Basi-Virk and the Mystery Hard-Drive appeared today in a Quebec newspaper.

For the past 2 or 3 years, so far as I know, there has been nothing on the BCRail case beyond BC, The Globe and Mail, and National Post.

When the story does begin to show up right across the country and internationally, there will a brighter light focused on Studio 54, louder questions, and ... come to think of it ... there could be scrums or even press conferences. Like normal folks! Imagine.

All of which would make it just a little more difficult to ignore the public interest.


Anonymous said...

I have to assume that if the defense is arguing that emails are missing; for them to know this as a fact; they must have the original copies of the so called emails in question. Otherwise anyone on crown charges could simply claim that there are missing emails that prove their innocence. Getting back to these emails why does not the defense provide a copy of the emails they claim are missing ?

Anonymous said...

What else would you expect from a lobbyist at the centre of this case, A CORRUPTED COMPUTER!!

Who comes up with this material? lol

Anonymous said...

NOTE: This post was edited for defamatory comment - Tieleman

This is clearly a stall tactic by the defense, the latest in literally hundreds employed in this russian doll court case.

Their strategy is to tie up the court for so long, create so many legal issues, voir dires and disclosure complaints, that the crown eventually collapses in.

The hilarious thing is that the defense manipulates the media by insinuating things against high profile individuals. The media wants to believe the allegations so bad, they conveniently ignore the fact that they are coming from a couple of XXX XXXXXXX individuals out there, with nothing to lose and everything to gain from spreading these rumours.

When the smoke clears the defense, with the help of an only too willing news media, will be succesful at thwarting the prosecution of these two guys, preventing the real issues from being addressed and wasting everyones time and money.

Anonymous said...

To "In the Know"

Your rant ignores the facts once again. Are you implying that Justice Bennett is not competent? I read the quote from one of the defence lawyers yesterday who urged the judge to order the prosecutor to give them the emails they need so they "can get this matter to trial". Gee that sure sounds like a brilliant stall tactic, whats next another application to the judge demanding more information, thats another great stall tactic. Get your facts right, or should I say the next time you to talk to the self confessed briber of public officials make sure you hold your nose and take what comes out of his mouth with a grain of salt.

While we are on that subject, how is the "self confessed briber of public officials" doing these days?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, the defense accused of stalling tactics for demanding emails that the Judge deemed relevant, extrememly relevant and one that is so important that it goes to the outcome of the case?

Not sure who you are "in the know" but perhaps you may wish to direct your defamatory comments at the government who are clearly the ones holding back critical information.

Maybe you believe that the Judge is part of the mass conspiracy cover up as well?

Making allegations behind the cloak of anonymity goes to the character and integrity of "in the know". Shame.

Anonymous said...

Bill there is a typo in your story. Wondering if you could fix the part of Mccullough's quote about the computer of the lobbyist.

Anonymous said...

Here's a story that appears quite relevant to BC's own Liberal scandal. Could this happen here?

Liberal negligence caused case to be thrown out against Toronto cops: NDP

TORONTO -- Opposition parties say the Liberal government's incompetence has led to the staying of corruption charges against six Toronto police officers.

See our blog for more.

Anonymous said...

12:15 Anon seems to think you are:Ranting: You figure the judge is incompetent. For the rest of us folks kindly point your electronic finger to just where Tielaman is showing disrespect for the judge and of course tha rant. I see neither. on this report.


Bill Tieleman said...

Sorry for late response - a poster asked why the defence does not provide a copy of the missing emails. That's because the computers with the emails were seized by police. I'm sure the defence would have introduced them as evidence if they had them.

What I suspect is the case is that the accused remembers some emails and their contents generally or even vaguely and don't to date see them reflected in evidence disclosed by the Crown.