Thursday, January 22, 2009

BASI-VIRK: 82 documents RCMP trying to withhold ordered released by BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett

Defence lawyers have won a major victory in their ongoing and lengthy fight to obtain disclosure of documents the RCMP wants withheld in the BC Legislature Raid case.

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett has ordered the release of 82 documents that the RCMP wanted kept from defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three former BC Liberal government aides facing corruption charges related the the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003.

The newly-released evidence is described as "RCMP investigative documents" and a lawyer for the RCMP has argued that they fall under the category of solicitor-client privilege and should have been denied as such.

But only the defence will see the documents - nothing has been released to the public or media. Nor were there any other media in the courtroom Wednesday, just myself and two veteran observers.

Court heard on Wednesday defence arguments as to why an additional 35 documents should also be given to them.

W.P. Riley, a lawyer for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada who is representing the RCMP in court, told Bennett that her rulings have led to 48 documents being fully released to the defence, another 34 documents being partially released, leaving 35 documents that the defence want access to.

Defence lawyers Kevin McCullough for Virk, Michael Bolton for David Basi and Joe Doyle for Aneal Basi, have said that the Crown has an obligation to provide context for the documents that have been previously released to inform their arguments but Special Prosecutor Janet Winteringham disagreed.

"I appreciate that they don't have the documents and are somewhat in the dark but they have the descriptions and they onus is on them - these have already been ruled privileged documents," Winteringham said.

Riley argued Wednesday that: "So long as solicitor-client privilege exists, all of the communication is covered."

Justice Bennett also dropped some tantalizing hints about what might be in the remaining documents in question.

At one point she referred to one of the documents, saying: "With respect to the White Castle Memorandum, I've had a look and clearly solicitor-client privilege applies."

McCullough replied that it will be dealt with at Monday's court hearing.

There was no other as to what the White Castle Memorandum means - presumably it does not refer to the 2004 stoner movie: "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" although a Victoria drug investigation did lead to the BC Legislature Raid.
The court was in session Thursday but I was unable to attend. The next date is Monday January 26.


BC Mary said...

Well, I don't know how you're managing to get all this information, Bill, but it's surely welcome.

Even that simple line: "The next date is Monday January 26." Thanks especially for that.

Do you know if the A.L.R. trial against Dave Basi is finished? I get dizzy wallowing through pages and pages of Victoria Court listings and am never sure whether NOT finding Basi's name means that there's no hearing, or whether I just missed seeing his name.


Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Mary - always appreciated.

The ALR trial for Dave Basi was only in the preliminary hearing stage - that's why the publication ban. I believe that has now ended but will try to find out for sure.

I'm not aware if a date has been set for the actual trial.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Forget FROST-NIXON, BASIGATE is bigger than Watergate.

Federal & Provincial . . . Martinites, Campbellites and Dionites are like rats climbing out of the sewers of Super-Natural BC.


Anonymous said...

Mary. I figure Bill gets the information because of his years doing just that, collecting information. Sometimes as Francis Bula says, you establish connections and ask.

The judge has released a lot of stuff and one can only wonder how much more is still lurking in the weeds.

The ALR land case is interesting as the present government has managed to reduce the folks who make the decisions from a provincial body to locals. We all have to eat and local food is sometimes days or weeks fresher. That's why farmer markets are so popular, but the farmers need land to do the growing. But that never slowed down guys who see a buck to be made. It's a insult to see Gordo and crew using ALR land as bargaining chips in treaty negotiations without the land no longer being under the ALR land regulations.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Bill, White Castle?? Are you sure that you didn't hear something similar?

Maybe it is the name of a new investigation or some code name to prevent disclosure.

BC Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good advice about making connections. Like, last week when we were trying to keep up with the developments in Victoria, I contacted people I knew in Victoria to tell them that Citizens' eyes-and-ears were needed in Victoria Court Rooms ... and asking if they could possibly drop in for a listen.

There was even a "Legislative Bureau Chief" who thanked me because he hadn't known despite his connections, and rushed to Victoria Court House just as they were wrapping up. Others tried, but didn't make it.

I'd be interested to know if you thought about taking a seat in the public gallery for last week's A.L.R. hearing, or the special hearing held by Justice Bennett.

Francis Bula is dead right, it's about connections, and asking, and people responding. And it's hard work for someone like Bill, or even BC Mary, to get it right and keep it going. I'd like to say that Bill Tieleman never fails to answer my questions but I try not to overdo it, knowing his workload.

About the A.L.R. hearings: Important as food production is in BC, I think the A.L.R. trial is about more than food. I think it might prove to be a parallel model to the BCRail sale modus operendi and very important to consider in that light. Don't you think that this factor may have been what brought Justice Bennett from Vancouver that day?