Friday, February 01, 2008

 

E-mail could affect outcome of corruption case

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Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun: Friday, February 01, 2008

VANCOUVER / An e-mail the B.C. government is refusing to disclose to the defence is so relevant it might affect the outcome of a corruption case against three former government aides, a pre-trial hearing heard today.

The electronic correspondence B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett referred to is among a batch of 140 e-mails seized by the RCMP during a 2003 raid on legislature offices.

After reviewing the documents, Bennett said 92 of the e-mails are relevant to the case, three have significant relevance and one is considered so relevant it might affect the outcome of the case.

The province has refused to disclose the e-mails to the defence because of claims of cabinet privilege and lawyer-client privilege.

The judge has yet to hear legal arguments on the privilege issue and is still trying to determine what documents the government is claiming as privileged.

The trial, originally scheduled to start in 2005, has been repeatedly delayed by problems with disclosure to the defence. It's currently slated to start March 17.

New Democrat MLA Mike Farnworth, who attended today's proceedings, suggested the government should waive privilege on the e-mail deemed extremely relevant. "The government has got to make sure everything that's relevant is released," he said outside court. "The public confidence in the process has got to outweigh any claim of privilege." {Snip} ...

The judge said today the hard drive is sealed in a vault for safekeeping.

Special prosecutor Janet Winteringham said the hard drive is a copy made by police of all materials seized from the computers used by the accused and from the government server that contained copies of all e-mails.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough said he had a number of concerns about the hard drive and suggested it be checked against the original in Victoria to ensure everything has been disclosed to the defence.

"There has to be some meaningful end to this madness that's been going on for the last month," the lawyer said in court, referring to the fact new documents are still being found this late in the case.

nhall@png.canwest.com

http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.canada.com/barterads/house/skinny_registration/nl_vancouver/728x90/images/skinny_vancouver_top.gif


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Here's an interesting puzzle. In the following article, see if you can find any mention of that "one e-mail which might affect the outcome" of the Basi-Virk trial:

Prosecutor to review documents on hard drive in court registry

Keith Fraser
The Province - February 1, 2008

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=e3bb9486-43e3-485a-aa1b-c38e1f5bd95c

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And hey! Here's a Basi-Virk / BCRail article published in New Brunswick!

Search for missing e-mails in BC corruption case turns up mystery ...
Canada East - Moncton, New Brunswick,Canada

VANCOUVER - A search for missing e-mails in the corruption case against two former BC government ministerial aides has taken a strange twist with the ...

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Another story published in Hamilton, Ontario ... and, in fact ...

Google: "Search for missing e-mails in BC corruption case turns up mystery" and you now get ... are you ready for this? ... you get 54,800 hits!!

So the news is out - right across Canada and into the U.S.

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Comments:
EXPRESS COLLISION SHOP SAID,

Hidden on page b7 of the Sun? WOW!

Hidden e-mails to bring down this trial. I have a feeling these e-mails may be the end of a few careers. I have heard a few confirmed situations of one or two members of the RCMP getting pretty heavy with one or more of a few potential witness's a few years back. I had hoped this was not true. I thought this stuff only went on in movies. Whoever writes the book on this corrupt mess has a hell of a story line.

The lawyers are a getting rich in B.C.
 
You're absolutely right Mary. No mention of the "one e-mail which might affect the outcome" in Keith Frasers' article. Question: Why would a trained reporter miss a significant piece of information such as this when reporting to the public?
 
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gary e,

Maybe that important fact really WAS there in Keith Fraser's original article.

Like you, I can't believe that a professional reporter would simply miss a significant 1/3 of the Judge's statement about the e-mails and their relevance to the Basi-Virk case.

Can you spell "editor" ... ? But even if editing down for length, the smart editor would usually cut something of least importance.

Interesting, eh?

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In fairness to the journalists covering thecase, the acoustics in courtroom 54 are simply atrocious and Justice Bennett isn't the clearest speaker. It would be easy for someone to miss something she said.
 
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Anonymous 4:20,

I've been thinking about that. On top of all the other difficulties, we also have a courtroom where it's difficult to hear what's being said.

But no, I don't really think that bad acoustics really excuse reporters from noting that Judge Bennett was still speaking on a very important point. They could've asked around. They got the rest of her comment accurately, they could see that she was covering vital areas of evidence, so I say they should've made an effort to get the final words, too.

It's too darn much of a coincidence that those missing final words indicate a very important piece of information which might affect the outcome of the trial.

Or perhaps I'm wearying of excuses as to why the public gets short shrift time after time.

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I checked with my source who was there atcourt that day. He doesn't recall Judge Bennett making this remark either. Of course he may have fallen asleep at that time. Copley has that effect on him.
 
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