Monday, February 11, 2008

 

Next pre-trial hearing: Feb. 18. Looking back: Why wasn't Premier Campbell interviewed by RCMP? asked Virk's lawyer

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POLITICAL DIRTY LAUNDRY AIRED AT TRIAL (April 2007)

Susan Lazaruk,
CanWest News Service - April 24, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Two ministerial aides who are facing corruption charges paid phoney protesters and organized mass call-ins to radio shows to boost the Liberal agenda on the direction of the premier's office and other government officials, their trial heard yesterday.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough asked why Premier Gordon Campbell wasn't interviewed as part of the RCMP's investigation into the B.C. Rail sale in 2003 that led to a raid on the B.C. legislature.

Indeed, McCullough suggested that calls intercepted by the RCMP at that time showed the RCMP was tailoring the case against the accused, David Basi and Robert Virk, and taking "it away from elected officials," McCullough told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett. {Snip} ...

Read more at: http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=4ff72a3b-dc52-439b-ab7b-42d9acd3b0b0&k=49911

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WIRETAP SAID TO TIE COLLINS TO MEDIA TRICKS

Bill Tieleman
The Tyee - May 4, 2007

... McCullough made sustained arguments he completed Wednesday that the RCMP has "tailored" its investigation in order to steer it away from elected politicians and towards Basi and Virk.

But nothing he did could have helped his case more than an unexpected phone call he received on Sunday, April 29, from a man named John Preissell.

Preissell, it turns out, had contacted RCMP in January 2005 to offer information he had about the role of provincial lobbyist Brian Kieran in the case. And after speaking to McCullough, Preissell made a surprise appearance in the courtroom Monday to give evidence.

Preissell told the court in sworn testimony as the case's unscheduled and first witness that the RCMP "didn't seem too interested" when he contacted them about Kieran, who is one of the Crown's key witnesses against the defendants.

McCullough found that amazing because first of all, special prosecutor Bill Berardino had never disclosed the Preissell tip to the defence.

And second, because Preissell testified under oath that Kieran had threatened him over a planned public campaign against Gary Collins about Insurance Corporation of B.C. issues. Collins was minister responsible then and Preissell at that time was owner of an auto body and glass repair shop having "red tape" trouble with ICBC.

"The bottom line was he [Kieran] threatened me repeatedly and said if we didn't back off of Mr. Collins we wouldn't get what we wanted," Preissell alleged. "I was actually afraid, I was very afraid."

Preissell said that at the time of the threat in the spring of 2003 he was a member of a group of the Auto Glass Survival Coalition and that another industry group he had been involved with had hired Kieran as a lobbyist.

"Kieran offered to work for the Coalition for free to embarrass ICBC but not to embarrass the minister of finance," Preissell testified.

When I contacted Kieran and read him Preissell's statement he declined comment. "As per the past three years, I've been advised by my attorney that I should wait until I'm in court to say my piece," said Kieran, a longtime Victoria political columnist for The Province newspaper before becoming a lobbyist.

Railroading and the RCMP

Preissell's surprise appearance was followed by another surprise appearance the next day. The Crown discovered extensive notes of the tip received by veteran RCMP Sergeant Bud Bishop. And Bishop himself showed up in court.

However by the time McCullough had read Bishop's notes, he was barely able to control his anger.

"You've been hearing me repeatedly talk about the failure of the Crown and the RCMP to disclose," he told Justice Bennett. "These are comprehensive notes about BC Rail. They're not just about Mr. Preissell. Sergeant Bishop's notes were never disclosed in any way, period."

"But for Mr. Preissell phoning us, we would never have pursued this at all," McCullough said heatedly. "The special prosecutor has not met his disclosure obligations whatsoever."

It then turned out that Bishop's notes were indeed a treasure trove of information that included references to other public tips and mention of current B.C. Liberal Forests Minister Rich Coleman and former B.C. Liberal Deputy Premier Christy Clark.

"These notes contain details of conversations Sergeant Bishop had with a Terry Fergusson," about BC Rail issues, McCullough continued. Fergusson, he said, "complained about a flawed process, that he complained to Christy Clark about, that he was talking to Mr. Virk about the very flawed processes that were going on."

"Four MLAs wrote Christy Clark [or] saw Coleman," McCullough read from Bishop's notes. "He left out that Mr. Fergusson was having dealings with Christy Clark and seeing Minister Coleman. That begins to tell you, milady, how the B.C. Liberal government is operating."

Christy Clark did not respond to a request to comment on statements attributed to Fergusson. It later turned out that Fergusson is executive director of the National Historical Railway Society, a group that sued BC Rail in 1998 over money it claimed was owed to it.

The missing notes didn't anger just McCullough. Justice Bennett had sharp words for the special prosecutor as well.

"You see the problem with this?" Bennett asked Janet Winteringham, assistant to special prosecutor Bill Berardino, who is absent from the hearing.

"Yes," Winteringham answered.

"As you probably know, I practiced criminal law for 15 years before moving to the bench 10 years ago. What you're telling me is troubling, that these disclosures are coming at this stage," Bennett concluded. {Snip} ...

Read more at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/05/04/CollinsWiretap/

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Comments:
Hi Mary,


I remember when these allegations of dirty tricks came out of the BC rail corruption trial (spring of 07). I was watching the CBC noon news and they told the story of the phone in dirty tricks and about the rallies. Short and vague and to finish the anchor said” this all steaming from a court case going on in Vancouver” I new at this point that there was something very wrong with the attitude at the CBC on this trial. They didn’t call the trial the basi-virk trial or the BC rail trial or even a corruption trial. Is this in some way connected to Carole Taylor? Out of all the networks not covering this trial I’m most disappointed with the CBC. Today their attitude has not changed.
 
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