ANOTHER DAY IN THE B.C. LEGISLATURE RAID CASE
By Bill Tieleman
Secret witnesses, 5,000 pages of new evidence and accusations by the Special Prosecutor that a defence lawyer was “ranting and raving” marked the latest BC Supreme Court hearing Friday in the BC Legislature raid case.
The testy pre-trial hearing saw verbal fireworks fly as the long-delayed trial of BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk on breach of trust and fraud charges heard more accusations of the Crown and RCMP failing to properly disclose evidence to the defence.
Virk’s lawyer Kevin McCullough blasted Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino after the defence received 5,000 more pages of evidence that had been ordered disclosed by Justice Elizabeth Bennett some months ago. McCullough said he had sent Berardino a lengthy letter complaining again of late disclosure.
“There are some monumental disclosure issues, extreme problems of disclosure,” an exasperated sounding McCullough told Bennett.
“We’re still dependent on the RCMP to decide what to disclose. When you hear about what the RCMP decide is relevant you are going to be very, very, very surprised,” McCullough said.
“We’ve just found there’s three more files, an inordinate amount of notes,” he said. “The [RCMP] Team Commander for 18 months – there is not a single note – nothing.”
That accusation brought Berardino to his feet.
“Mr. McCullough can get up right now and rant and rave but there’s a process and I will respond to his letter point by point. But I do not agree with his position,” Berardino said angrily. He told Bennett the Crown would need about 10 days to reply to McCullough.
The trial also heard that two witnesses have requested that their testimony be given in-camera so they could not be identified in the media.
“The in-camera application – I may hear arguments from media counsel and need some time for that,” Bennett said.
There was no indication as to who the witnesses might be or what evidence they might give in the case.
The 5,000 pages of new evidence – which comes on the heels of 25,000 pages of new evidence given to the defence in October – comprises over 4,000 pages from the Integrated Proceeds Of Crime [IPOC] investigation and another 800 pages of hard copy wiretap logs, the court was told.
Michael Bolton, Basi’s lawyer, said the defence was still working through the earlier disclosure, much of it related to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003. Basi and Virk are accused of providing confidential government information about the deal to lobbyist Erik Bornmann, who was working for bidder OmniTRAX at that time. Bornmann is now the Crown's key witness against Basi, Virk and Aneal Basi, a former provincial communications aide.
“I’m still going through that material – much of it is significant. Parts of it are notes of officers and are relevant for our disclosure application,” Bolton said. The defence plans to file multiple applications at a scheduled hearing December 3.
But Justice Bennett again warned both Crown and defence that she would not tolerate any further delays.
“As long as we’re clear – motions are going to proceed on December 3,” she said.
The latest developments concerned MLA Leonard Krog, the New Democratic Party critic for the Attorney-General’s Ministry who observed the hearing.
“It’s very troubling when you hear defence counsel talking about ‘monumental problems with disclosure’, despite what Mr. Berardino says,” Krog said in an interview outside the courtroom. “This isn’t a break and enter – it’s a raid on the BC Legislature. People could go to jail. It’s hard to think about a case that’s more important.”
Krog, himself a lawyer, said disclosure is a critical part of any case.
“There’s a tremendous onus on the Crown and the RCMP to disclose everything,” he said. “One can only speculate but on the road to disclosure somebody’s holding it up.”
Bennett confirmed that another pre-trial hearing will be held on Friday November 23 at 9 a.m.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Basi-Virk Case - Secret witnesses, 5000 pages of new evidence, "rant and rave" accusations, Bill Tieleman was there in Supreme Court today!
ANOTHER DAY IN THE B.C. LEGISLATURE RAID CASE
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION November 17:
Bolton told Bennett that part of the new information received includes material from Erik Bornmann's email account.
"It's important material. He's a central witness in this thing," Bolton said.
And McCullough alleged in court that the RCMP had wiretapped calls between the defendants and their lawyers, though he did not provide details.
"Solicitor client calls being listened to, passed on to other officers," he told Bennett.
Still looming is an abuse of process motion that Bolton, McCullough and Joe Doyle, Aneal Basi's lawyer, intend to file in an attempt to through the entire case out of court.
The defence would argue that the failure of the RCMP and Special Prosecutor to provide timely and full disclosure of evidence has made a fair trial impossible.
Justice Bennett referenced that at an October pre-trial hearing:
"At some point your friends are going to bring in an abuse of process motion and I don't need to hear arguments from anyone today," Bennett said curtly to Berardino, using the court term "friends" to refer to the defence counsel. "I appreciate no one knew how many documents there were and I know everyone is working hard."
The new evidence presented to the defence this week came as a result of Bennett's sweeping order in June that the Crown disclose "every scrap of paper" related to the case after she heard about a wide variety of missing evidence, including RCMP officers' notes and an account of
Bennett filed a 37-page decision at that time granting every one of the defence requests for disclosure.
"The defence is entitled to disclosure in a timely fashion. This rather extensive review of the many problems with this case demonstrates that disclosure has not been sufficiently made in a timely way," Bennett wrote in June.
" I regret that I must make the following order in such broad and sweeping terms. However, given the substantial failure to respect the disclosure rights of the accused, this order is the only way I believe I can ensure that no miscarriage of justice will occur."
At the court Friday, MLA Krog said the lengthy delays and problems in getting to trial almost four years after the police raid on the Legislature paint a troubling picture of the whole justice system in BC.
"It says that we have some real problems in a case that is so important to the public," Krog said. "In fairness, maybe these guys [Basi, Virk and Basi] are innocent and four years later they haven't even had a trial."
Thanks again, Bill. We'll be watching for your next reports in 24 HOURS and in The Tyee on Monday. - BC Mary.
I think that one of the secret witnesses is Premier Gordon Campbell. He is said to be a very controlling kind of person, who wants his hands on everything.
He must know an awful, awful lot about the Ministry of Finance and the way the B.C. Rail deal was handled. Especially because it was sort of an auction, wasn't it? With little pep-talks and come-ons like a poker game, with Team Campbell teasing the bidders along.
Yep, I think it's the premier.
And either Gary Collins or Rich Coleman.
They're going to spill the beans, as a kind of quid pro quo, so they won't be subpoenaed for the full Monty.
Just guessing, of course.
The proceedings are becoming so "deja vu, all over again" that I can virtually write the script before it happens.
A Basi, Basi and Virk pre-trial hearing (dialog, short form)
Kevin McCollough or Michael Bolton:
"The Crown and the RCMP aren't co-operating with disclosure."
Big Bad Bill Berardino:
"Yes they are, the defense is ranting and insane."
"I WILL NOT tolerate any delays" (and I will say that again next time - oh she doesn't say that).
"As long as we’re clear – motions are going to proceed on (*Pick a Date* any date - get your red hot date here)."
Well this time they did add "secret witnesses" just to stop it from being too boring and repetitive.
I can recognize a joke/scam on the people when I see one..........
Well, yeah Koot ... they've become accustomed to using a template.
But this does permit someone like Bill Tieleman to ask around a bit, and so we get a prominent member of the Loyal Opposition saying "Yes indeed, this is a terrible problem, just like McCullough says ... blah blah"
Ya gotta admit, that's new. Krog only mentioned Basi-Virk-BCRail once before, I think, and that was to say "Yes indeed, this is a terrible problem ..."
CanWest missed a golden opportunity to link that Opposition spokesperson to the PacifiCat project and blame the delays on Glen Clark.
So who do you reckon the Secret Witnesses are?
"and so we get a prominent member of the Loyal Opposition saying "Yes indeed,"
So we actually have a "Loyal Opposition?" Of course that begs the question of "to whom are they Loyal?"
As to the "shrink wrapped" ferries and Glen's deck, maybe Canned Waste has come to realize those turkeys don't fly anymore. Any false metaphor/analogy will eventually get beaten to death.
The only person who looks stupid anymore in relation the the Fast Cats is Gordo, for insisting on selling them for the "Lowest Imaginable" bid. After all, the Gord Man didn't get much traction with that the last time he deigned to show up in the Ledge and use them to defend his "Fast Ferries on Steroids" or the Convention Centre, otherwise known as the Black Hole for Money.
As for the Secret Witnesses, I confess, one of 'em is me, but don't tell anybody, OK?
Koot man, of course they're Loyal, it says so right in their official title: Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.
They're Loyal to everything Her Majesty wishes them to be Loyal to. OK?
She tells them, right in the Speech From the Throne.
Only (ha ha) Her Majesty lets the Premier's office write that speech.
So perhaps you can see why the Loyal Opposition finds it so difficult to get focused on the issues, especially since there's no more Joy in the Legislature.
So YOU are one of the Secret Witnesses at the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi, eh. YOU are the one who's finally going to spill the beans?
Nahh. You already spilled the beans when you re-named the B.C. legislature the House of Infamy. Right?
My first guess right off the top is Gordo. But I can't see him putting himself near the buses wheels if he can shove someone else near them first so Kevin Falcon comes to mind.
My next two picks are Christy Clark (payback for onething or another ?) and someone from the federal Libs. One of Paul Martin's old crew.
And my most fondest guess, the romantic in me hopes, it's a couple of quiet lowly ignored backbenchers who hate what Gord and his gang have been up to for so long. They have been gathering incriminating, damaging, solid, irrefutable evidence about the whole sorry mess and more and they are going to blow it all wide open. But they are shy. And they fear for their lives. Or something like that.
Oh, what if one is Paul Battershill? He wouldn't want to demoralize the force and all that. OK, too many picks. Must think about this some more.
Many thanks Bill. And always, of course, to you too Mary.
Geo, the chuckle as well as the kind words are much appreciated.
I'm withdrawing my Gordon Campbell nomination. You're correct, I think. He will not be offering help in finding out what went on when they got rid of B.C. Rail.
So for Best Possibility in the Wishful Thinking category, I'm nominating 1) a back-bench BC Liberal MLA from one of the ridings along the old B.C. Rail route. And 2) Joy MacPhail, former Leader of the Opposition, who had clear, urgent questions (see Hansard) about what was going on, probably couldn't get her suspicions verified, but would be willing to place some of that information on the record if she can avoid being drawn back into B.C. politics. Remember, Bobby Virk was briefing her on the B.C. Rail deal.
Next question: how and where could this SECRET testimony be given without it becoming known??
So . . . re: those secret witnesses - could they be RCMP officers outside of those related to the "headquarters" group?
My mind keeps jerking back to that hot line phone call to Dep Comm Gary Bass from former Solicitor General Rich Coleman's Asst. Dep. Min. strongly suggesting that the RCMP 'can' the desires of other officers WANTING to investigate Min. Collins et al. - Isn't that all to do with "the headquarters file" that has just surfaced????
Yes, Richy, that pillar of, well, something other than ethics by the looks what is before our eyes & ears. Seems to me I read, RC & the Campbell 'bagmen' are pretty cozy . . .
The Commercial Crime Div., where some police declared they wanted to pursue this investigation of the political boys at the top, separate to "headquarters" in Vancouver.
Just musing . . .