By Bill Tieleman
Lawyers for the defence in the Basi-Virk case made strong allegations this afternoon that instructions to claim solicitor-client privilege over documents related to the $1 billion BC Rail privatization came from "cabinet" rather than from provincial bureaucrats in the Attorney-General's ministry.
And defence counsel questioned statements made in the BC Legislature by Premier Gordon Campbell about the openness government was demonstrating regarding providing dcouments they says are needed to defend their clients, three former BC government aides.
Lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi also gave BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett notice that they may seek to cross-examine both the current and the former Deputy Cabinet Secretary about their role in providing instructions on the privilege issue.
"The issue of who's giving instructions is significant," said Kevin McCullough, Virk's lawyer. "There's a real issue when the Deputy Attorney General was providing instructions and when instructions were provided by Cabinet."
McCullough said the defence may seek to cross-examine former Deputy Cabinet Secretary Joy Illington and current Deputy Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth MacMillan.
Outside the court, Michael Bolton, David Basi's lawyer, told reporters that the defence questions statements made by Campbell in the Legislature that had been quoted earlier today by George Copley, the government's lawyer.
"What we said was that Mr. Copley had quoted the Premier saying there would be openness about these documents and that's not consistent with the position taken," Bolton said.
In court McCullough made clear that he did not doubt Copley's integrity at all but he did question Campbell's statements in the BC Legislature during debate with New Democratic Party leader Carole James over the premier's office estimates that the Deputy Attorney General was dealing with issues of privilege in the Basi-Virk case. [See earlier report below for Hansard quotes]
"The instructions really are driving the way you ought to interpret the government's assertions of solicitor-client privilege," McCullough told Bennett. "The Deputy Cabinet Secretary is ultimately who's instructing Mr. Copley with respect to privilege."
Earlier Bennett agreed that the defence could cross-examine Nancy Reimer, an assistant to government lawyer George Copley, on Tuesday December 18 regarding an affadavit she prepared outlining privilege issues in the case from the province's perspective. Reimer was excused from the court for part of the afternoon because of that request.
The defence will make further arguments on Monday
December 17 at 10 a.m. on the solicitor-client privilege issue.
Posted with generous permission of Bill Tieleman.
For latest Basi-Virk developments, go to http://billtieleman.bogspot.com/
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