Tuesday, October 13, 2009

BASI-VIRK: "Millions of pages" of evidence now available in BC Rail case, after 17 of 20 BC Liberal MLA email backup tapes recovered


Defence still hopes to find more recoverable email backup tapes

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

A defence lawyer in the B.C. Rail corruption case said Tuesday that with news 17 of 20 backup tapes of emails from B.C. Liberal MLAs have been recovered from possible deletion, there are now “millions” of pages of evidence for the long-delayed trial.

Michael Bolton, representing David Basi – one of two ex-B.C. ministerial assistants facing corruption charges – said outside B.C. Supreme Court that information disclosed Tuesday means: “There are now millions of pages of documents.”

But Bolton isn’t happy one email back up tape for September 2003 cannot be recovered and two more may also be useless.

“Of course it’s troubling,” Bolton said. “[But] there’s a considerable body of material we’ll be getting that wasn’t originally thought recoverable.”

In court lawyer Frank Falzon, representing the B.C. Legislature’s Speaker, Bill Barisoff, as well as the Clerk and Conflict of Interest Commissioner, said 17 back up tapes of emails from 15 current and former B.C. Liberal MLAs have been restored “at considerable expense”.

Falzon told Justice Anne MacKenzie that forensic experts are still working to see if tapes for emails from December 2003 and July 2004 can be recovered as well.

In court Kevin McCullough, representing co-accused Bob Virk, told MacKenzie it was critical to learn what could still be recovered from email backup tapes.

"You need to know, the defence needs to know what's recoverable," McCullough said. There's still a lot apparently not recoverable."

Basi and Virk alleged gave confidential government documents about the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail to lobbyists for a losing bidder, allegations which led to an unprecedented police raid of the B.C. Legislature in December 2003.

The court hearing, just the second in front of Justice MacKenzie since she took over from longtime case judge Elizabeth Bennett, saw a total of 15 lawyers in attendance.

Among the lawyers in court were John Esson, representing former BC Deputy Premier Christy Clark - now a CKNW talk show host; Clark Roberts, representing former BC Finance Minister Gary Collins - now a Vancouver corporate executive, was online by telephone from Victoria; Ed Montague, representing the BC Liberal MLA caucus; plus almost full teams from the Special Prosecutor and defence.

One interesting observer in the gallery, in full robes, was George Macintosh - the veteran lawyer at Farris & Co. who has previously represented key Crown witness Erik Bornmann - the former Pilothouse lobbyist retained by BC Rail bidder OmniTRAX who allegedly received confidential government documents about the privatization from David Basi and Bob Virk in exchange for benefits.

The hearing resumes Wednesday.

A version of this story will be published in 24 hours Vancouver newspaper on October 14, 2009



Anonymous said...

December 2003 was the period that both former AG Geoff Plant and former SG Rich Coleman were briefed by officials about the investigation.

Coleman contacted the Premier in Hawaii about the raids on the leg as well.

I wonder if either them emailed the premier in December of 2003....

BC Mary said...


Thanks for another good report, Bill.

We can almost feel the tension building.

But it's astonishing that only a handful of people showed up in the public gallery when history is being made.

It's not as if they'll find pages and pages with photos etc. in their local daily newspaper, is it. Oh well ...

Tomorrow should begin to get serious.

DPL said...

So they recovered some emails "at considerable cost" Too bad for the government who had them trashed in the first place. The place sure get lawyered up, lots of "learned friends" and a few citizens. Keep moving them along judge. Thanks for the report Bill

Anonymous said...

'millions of pages'...
Recovered or restored? FIXED!
This should stoll things for another 6 year!

paul said...

How many lawyers are involved when almost full teams appear for special prosecutor and defence?
Ueful report, as always.
Paul Willcocks

Anonymous said...

The honour-roll in the courtroom reads like a Disneyland parade of Federal & Provincial Liberal Scumbags and their ambulance chasing legal mercenaries.

For the life of me I cannot figure out why someone as "kind, genuine and loving" as our former . . . MADAME . . . deputy-premier Christy Clark would ever need a lawyer for anything.