Friday, June 20, 2008

Basi-Virk defence alleges political interference allowed by special prosecutor, seeks audio tapes of Michael Smyth interview with Premier Campbell

Basi-Virk case sees sparks fly over allegations that special prosecutor "complicit" in political interference by Premier Gordon Campbell's then-deputy minister Ken Dobell

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.


Anonymous said...

Some people are working very hard to stall this case. Sadly all of us are paying the bills for the governemtn side, the special prosecuter as well. Election coming, it's time to drop the gas tax expert Gordo

Anonymous said...


The defence filed a detailed application on June 10, 2008 that was reported on by Mark Hume on the front page of the Globe June 12, 2008.

Here is the link:
And here is the headline:

Defence wants Premier to testify at Basi-Virk trial

VANCOUVER -- Alleging "political interference" in a case that involves an unprecedented police raid on the B.C. legislature, defence lawyers have filed an application to have the Premier testify at a political corruption trial.

Anonymous said...

Defence shouldn't be trying to fix a witness list, prior to trial. Get the trial going and once evidence is on the table, get the subpoenas for corroborating witnesses. Why on earth would they plead for a breach of executive privilege at this early stage? This case is a mess.

Reminder: a 2 hour Motions hearing incurs court costs of $840, in addition to Affidavit and Hearing registry costs.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though the clock keeps ticking and Berardino keeps billing.

Anonymous said...

On Basigate . . . sardonic humour no longer cuts it, profanity is largely useless and shame is just surrender to the neo-con hordes

Bastille Day is coming up, maybe we should march on Victoria and behead the plutocrats.


RossK said...

"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.


So, how does the deputy know that the "passages are correct"?

Did he take notes?


Anonymous said...

"Defense wants Premier to testify at Basi-Virk trial."
Mark Hume

Considering Campbell's seemingly limitless flip-flops, misrepresentations, stories, economy of truth, untruths and bold faced lies throughout his political career, who would believe him in a court of law?

Would love to see a list of Campbell's lies any lawyer could present in court to discredit Campbell as a credible witness. I'll start it off with the obvious - please add what you can.

Campbell lied about:

-Not privatizing BC Rail.
-Not privatizing BC Hydro.
-Not closing hospitals and healthcare services.
-About being open and accountable.
-Not tearing up union contracts.
-Protecting education funding.
-The expansion of gambling.
-Reducing Liberal partisan advertising.
-Convention centre cost overruns.

Anonymous said...

Old saying when it comes to Campbell and the Legislature Raids....

"if you can't dazzle them with intelligence, baffle them with bullshit."

These guys even have grounds for a charter challenge in regards to due process of law. (speedy trial). And does it seem right that the government of the day through the AG's branch, appoints the special prosecutor, and miraculously, now its being dragged along at a pace that would make 5 snails going down the side walk look like a funny car race?

I'm not entirely sure what the answer is, when it comes to the crown investigating itself. And of course the Canworst Gliberal chain in the media and others, have completely dropped the ball on it, on purpose I believe. Had it been Premier Clark, James, Dosanjh, Harcourt or some other NDP type and gov't involved in this instead, you never would have heard the end of it (like fast ferries.)

Because its gordo and his band of misfits, they can do no wrong.

Anonymous said...

The tape should be on the public record. As for the courts, the public reads the "no recording" signs at courthouses and thinks there is an absolute prohibition. Actually, reporters ask the Clerk if they can address the Court. They then propose that they be permitted to audiotape, with the sole purpose of ensuring accuracy of quotes. That is always granted, and the Court Sheriffs take notice. I once saw a private person removed for unauthorized audiotaping. In those cases, the recorder could be confiscated.

Why would Campbell record these conversations, if not for issues of public interest?

Someone mentioned a Charter squelch, for delay of justice. That is Oppal's intent. But he has to be subtle, so that he has plausible denial.

Reminder: BC Mary posted Ian Mulgrew's story on the new Supreme Court rules, which will allow summary dismissal for want of cause, prior to attorney' probes of available evidence. CJ Brenner didn't work alone on the rules; Oppal directed his Deputy, Alan Seckel, to co-draft same. What is wrong with the Draft Rules. Everything! For example, Estate Law is a mess, and the drafters chose to keep it that way, because it allows extraordinary delays and attornies haven't a clue as to how much they will earn from a process.

Anonymous said...

This may be a interesting Court precedent.
Re Stay of Proceedings Qote from Judgement.

So in my view what the Rules are saying is that the court has to balance the right of the accused to make full answer and defence versus the rights of victims of alleged offences, and also the prevention of obfuscation so that, for example, a request for disclosure of irrelevant materials as a make-work project for the Crown of course would not be a just determination, but having said that, an accused of course has a right to make full answer and defence, and that is the difficulty because quite often it is impossible to determine the validity of those issues prior to trial, until the trial, when it becomes apparent whether or not the right of the accused to make full answer and defence is in fact affected.

[12] The only thing that is certain here, though, in this case, in my view, is that there has been a lax approach to disclosure on the part of the Crown, and I say that because of the fact that the disclosure request was clearly made.....

Now in terms of when it is appropriate to grant a stay of proceedings, the Supreme Court of Canada has said on a number of occasions that stays should only be granted in the clearest of cases. Chief Justice Dickson used that language in the case of R. v. Jewitt [1985] Supreme Court case reported at 47 C.R. (3d) 193. R. v. Power, [1994] 89 C.C.C. (3d) 1, the court said that a stay should be granted only to respond to:

. . . conduct which shocks the conscience of the community and is so detrimental to the proper administration of justice that it warrants judicial intervention.

[31] Finally, the Court of Appeal in this province, in R. v. Hair, [1998] B.C.J. No. 650, described a stay as a:

. . . most extraordinary remedy [available]. The onus is on the [applicant] to demonstrate that his right to make full answer and defence was not just impaired but irreparably prejudiced.