Saturday, December 01, 2007

 

About those Secret Witnesses ...

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Noted in passing, G West's comment at Bill Tieleman's blog:

G West said...

Bill,


I'd just add one further detail which supports the idea that this may or may not be a tempest in a teapot.

The idea that the informer must be in mortal danger of being exposed, harassed or killed - or that he/she is necessarily a paid informer, someone with knowledge of the drug scene, or even a bashful and guilt-wracked member of Campbell’s inside group is not a conclusion upon which anyone should hang their speculative hats.

It is equally plausible to argue that the ‘informer’ of Tip 47 – and I would be willing to wager some money on the fact that the ‘secret witness’ Berardino had in mind in his latest submission to the court IS that informer – is simply someone who provided information to the RCM Police in return for a commitment from the cops to keep her/his identity secret.

The complicating factors here are the possible (if not probable) difficulties which frequently arise when the ‘evidence’ provided by such a secret witness comes to court.

We know, from the material in the ‘Notice’ posted yesterday, that the information proffered by the secret witness (let’s call her – Ms X) pertains to two other “Crown witnesses” …neither of whom have been named either to the public or to defence counsel.

I think that the Special Prosecutor is not willing to name or identify those two Crown Witnesses either – in all probability because naming them might well endanger the confidentiality agreement the police have with Ms X.

So that’s the mystery:

1. A member of the public, Ms X, who has been promised anonymity [please see this SCC case on the subject and the ratio - R. v. Leipert [1997] 1 S.C.R. 281: - Police-informer privilege ] in return for information about the case, and;

2. Information about two other Crown witnesses (whom the crown presumably wants to call), and whom;

3. If they were identified in open court or even (perhaps) to the defence would, by implication and connection to the matter and the individuals involved, violate the anonymity promise the police made – and have every right to make – to Ms X. (The details of the Leipert case are important here).


I think that’s the whole story – interesting, but not something anyone needs to be that concerned about – I’m sure, among them, the Crown, the judge and defence counsel can find a way to permit the two witnesses to testify (in camera if necessary) without violating Ms X’s anonymity.

Of course the media will want to, and certainly should, dip their oar on the subject...but, the principle of permitting members of the public to make anonymous tips which can later be used to 'help' bring wrong-doers to justice is well-established.

You can read the Leipert case here:
http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/arrested_rights/leipert.html

If I were a wagering person, I'd suggest that 'Ms. X' may not be all that far from being the 'spark' that set this whole business alight some 4 or 5 years ago...which is why 'she's' so important to the disposition of the case.

My idle speculation for a snowy Saturday morning...

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Comments:
So is there any word on whether tomorrows December 3rd court datewill be closed to the public or not. Us eager Basi watchers want to know if we should bother getting up early tomorrow.
 
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Good question, Anonymous 11:32.

CanWest probably wouldn't tell us, even if they knew. Sorry to be so cynical but it comes from searching, day by day for so many months, and finding so little about this trial compared with the heavy daily coverage of the pig-farmer's trial.

Talk about the Schreiber Moon Principle, there it is for all to see.

I can't help thinking that CanWest doesn't want British Columbia to know there's a trial shaping up against three former aides in the Gordon Campbell government.

And when you think of the distractions: the Pickton verdict, the Conrad Black sentencing, the Schreiber - Mulroney hearing ... will CanWest get away with NO COVERAGE AT ALL on Basi-Virk next week?

Harrumph.

If the journalists have ways of finding out in advance whether or not they and the public will be barred from court, I'd reckon that Bill Tieleman's blog is our only access point.

It's possible, I suppose, that tomorrow's Supreme Court Listings will indicate whether or not the Hearings will be "in camera".

So it's 6:30 AM as usual, click on the Criminal Court listing link and hope to catch a glimmer of information.

Sure puts the "mock" in "democracy" eh?


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Hi Mary - I would anticipate the court room may well be closed for part of the day for the in-camera application but whether that happens at 10 a.m. sharp or later in the day is anyone's guess.

I would hope that Justice Elizabeth Bennett would say in open court what process she will follow before doing anything else.

She has made a point of ensuring media access and openness, so I think that's a fair bet but the Named Person case precedent may also be beyond her ability to act otherwise than to close the court.

I will be there before 10 a.m. and return after my regular CKNW radio gig ends at 11 a.m. and will try to post updates on my blog for those interested.
 
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THANKS, from us all, Bill.

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G West ~ I am fascinated with your reference to "she" as in Ms. X . . . any hints on WHO you believe "Ms. X is?

I'm pondering what you said in light of Madame Finance Minister Taylor at this time . . . well in advance of her actual departure, clearly cutting herself clean from Campbell. There are no coincidences are there?

. . . Interesting that Campbell took off to HK last week, before CT made her announcement & this pretrail starts on Monday.

Can't help but hope that Kreiger re-publishes his brilliant cartoon showing the astute former Premier, the Hon. WAC Bennett whose far reachin vision built BC Rail as an asset for ALL British Columbians . . . looking at Campbell insinuating he is bonkers . . . it's on our fridge!
 
Well secondlook - my strong suspicion is that Ms X is a civil servant...someone who saw what was going on and went to the police long before the raid with information about two others (the crown witnesses of the 'Notice') whom the police then contacted when they started to build their case.

The gender of my hypothetical member of the public was just a hunch...I don't have anyone specific in mind.

I thought CT's announcement came at a curious time too...

I'd love to see that cartoon again - if you run into on the net please let us know.
 
V-e-r-y interesting, g west. . . I am paying attention to your "suspicions" - hunches are good - often quite accurate before we even know the reasons LOL!

Good idea about the cartoon on the net - will do!

Keep warm & please, keep those intuitions coming!!
 
Your wish is my command, g west . . . Enjoy!

Dec. 11, 2002 - almost exactly 5 yrs. ago Krieger's cartoon appeared in The Province:

"If WAC were alive . . "

http://www.lib.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/edocs/Cartoons?CartoonID=2261



P.S. There were copyright limitations cited from the SFU Collection otherwise I would have dearly loved to have posted the cartoon here - a link is allowed.
 
Thanks secondlook, much appreciated!
 
Great food for thought GW - thanks.

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