Tuesday, June 23, 2009

 

BC Liberals' back-up email tapes erased from critical BC Rail deal period

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Bill Tieleman's excellent column has further details from yesterday's Basi Virk pretrial hearing. Almost beyond belief.

See it HERE.

Then write to the premier and ask to see the agreements his government signed 5 years ago transferring BC Rail to CN. It's important.

- BC Mary.


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Thousands of government e.mails lost or can't be retrieved, Basi-Virk trial hears

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - June 23.

Full story HERE.

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Defence queries missing e.mails

Keith Fraser
The Province - June 23, 2009




David Basi right, walks with his lawyer Michael Bolton to the Victoria Law courts Tuesday afternoon.Basi was a former high ranking aide to the B.C. finance minister.

Dave Basi (right) with his lawyer Michael Bolton.

VANCOUVER — Defence lawyers in the Basi-Virk corruption trial have sent a letter to the B.C. government demanding to know how thousands of e-mails relating to the controversial $1-billion sale of B.C. Rail could have vanished from the system.

On Monday, affidavits filed by a government lawyer indicated that the e-mails are not recoverable 13 months after appearing on the system.

“The defence is rejecting that notion and we want to get to the bottom of how and why that could occur,” Michael Bolton, a lawyer for David Basi, said outside court Tuesday. “It’s pretty obvious to us that the RCMP were aware that there were critical e-mails that should have been preserved, should have been got to at an early time. Certainly there would be no basis for allowing them to disappear.”

Bolton told reporters that “at the moment, our view is that [the e-mails] should be recoverable. We don’t accept at face value that these things are being lost, that they’re not recoverable. Because e-mails are recoverable as long as there are backup or storage tapes.”

The importance of the e-mails relates to the defence theory that the accused committed no crimes and were just doing what their political masters told them to do, added Bolton.

{Snip} ...

McCullough also tore a strip off the government for using Stuart Chase, an employee from the public affairs bureau, to monitor the pre-trial and report back to his superiors.

He noted that documents that detail Chase’s observations were made available to a journalist covering the case but not to a lawyer appointed to act as a defence nominee for disclosure of documents.

McCullough accused the government of acting in a “highly political” way in the use of Chase at the proceedings.

NDP justice critic Leonard Krog said “something stinks” that e-mails that could be relevant to the most high-profile criminal trial in B.C. could have been lost.

“It’s inconceivable to me that this could possibly happen,” said Krog, who added that the intent of the law is clear and requires such documents to be preserved for seven years.

{Snip} ...

Keith Fraser's full story is HERE.

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B.C. lawyer says RCMP failed to obtain emails that could have cleared accused

By Camille Bains
The Canadian Press - June 23, 2009

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The RCMP failed to obtain emails connected to its raid of the B.C. legislature even when the material was offered to police as part of their ongoing investigation, says a defence lawyer.

Kevin McCullough suggested Tuesday that the Mounties had tailored their investigation to target his client and a co-accused during their probe of the privatization sale of B.C. Rail.

McCullough said former deputy finance minister Dave Morhart told the Mounties in a December 2004 statement that he'd saved about 2,000 emails pertaining to the B.C. Rail deal but that the RCMP didn't want them.

"When Mr. Morhart offers up all of his emails on the transaction, the RCMP don't say, 'Yes, please,"' McCullough told a B.C. Supreme Court hearing.
{Snipppp} ...

Bolton said he and McCullough have written government lawyer George Copley a letter to obtain information on what kinds of computer searches were done to access the emails, from whom and how it was determined that they no longer exist.

Camille Bains' complete report is HERE.

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Disappearance of cabinet e-mails sends alarming message

If the records were wiped out in violation of a provincial statute, who gave the orders to delete them and why?


Gary Mason
The Globe and Mail - June 23, 2009


The future of a political corruption trial that threatens to reveal some ugly truths about the inner workings of the B.C. government is in jeopardy.

The case could be thrown out as a result of the stunning news that someone destroyed four years of confidential B.C. cabinet e-mails – documents that lawyers for the accused maintain are crucial to the defence.

This, five years after the infamous raid on the B.C. legislature that led to fraud and breach-of-trust charges against three former political aides and more than three years of pre-trial motions. And at a cost to taxpayers of likely more than $20-million and growing.

All potentially for nothing.

But that is the least of concerns at the moment. All anyone should care about is what happened to these thousands of e-mails.

If the records were wiped out in violation of a provincial statute, who gave the orders to delete them and why?

If there is a good and plausible explanation, the judge in the trial needs to hear it now.

So does the public, because, at the least, it looks suspicious, and at worse, it has the whiff of the type of scandal that brings political figures down.

That's how much is at stake.

{Snip} ...

As big a scandal as the raid on the legislature was, the destruction of these e-mails could be much bigger.

It all depends on where the search for the person who gave the order to have the files wiped out takes us.

And a search there must be.


Gary Mason's full report is HERE.

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B.C. government slammed over missing emails in BC Rail case

CBC News - June 23, 2009 |


A defence lawyer in the Basi-Virk corruption trial said Tuesday he is outraged the B.C. government is unable to find thousands of emails he believes would clear his client.

The emails, written between 2001 and 2005 by at least 15 key witnesses in the case, including Premier Gordon Campbell, several cabinet ministers and key staff, are either missing or irretrievable, a government lawyer told B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"We don't accept at face value that these things are a) lost; and b) if they have been lost in some sense that they're not recoverable," Michael Bolton, lawyer for David Basi, said Tuesday.

Basi was the ministerial assistant to then Finance Minister Gary Collins and Bob Virk was the ministerial assistant to then Transportation Minister Judith Reid in 2003 when the RCMP and Victoria police raided their offices in the B.C. legislature and seized documents relating to the privatization of the British Columbia Railway Co.

{Snip} ...

Bolton said the leaked information involving BC Rail actually came from inside cabinet because neither Basi nor Virk attended meetings where crucial information about the railway would have been discussed.

"It's a serious matter if evidence that ought to have been preserved, that is relevant in material, has been allowed to disappear," Bolton said of the missing emails.

Campbell said the government ensures all information that must be protected under privacy rules is protected.

"Emails are kept appropriately across government when it is a document that has specific relevance to, you know, government's activity. It's maintained," the premier said.

Bolton wanted to know how far the government had gone to find the missing correspondence: "What searches were made of the computers — of the individual persons whose emails we're seeking on this application? And how those searches were conducted and on what basis a conclusion was drawn that the emails were no longer available?"

NDP Public Safety critic Mike Farnworth said the fact the emails are missing is suspicious: "Either it's just gross incompetence or a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice."

The judge must now rule on whether the missing emails are relevant to the case before any further retrieval attempts are made.

Full story is HERE.

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Comments:
This thing about the emails is more than a smoking gun....it's more like finding the body....

One question: weren't there hard drives among the materials seized from the Ledge offices by the RCMP? Could they be among the evidence materials that remain sealed? In other words, those hard drives may contain records and data from emails that are already in the police evidence room, among so much else we're not allowed to see, or even know what it is.

Backup disks/tapes are common practice in any business; isn't this supposed to be a government that touts itself as behaving in a business-like manner. We all know it preaches open government without delivering on that promise, but this is more along the lines of criminal malfeasance by way of destruction of public property and, as has already been observed, obstruction of justice.

And who was it, exactly, among the RCMP, who told Deputy Finance Minister Mohart that they didn't want the emails he'd saved?

It's getting high time for a federal inquiry into ALL of this, especially given the behaviour of the RCMP in so many aspects of the case. This is no longer just an internal provincial matter.....
 
The feds were contacted about this matter 5 years ago. when they were the oppostion! The harper tories won't do anything because this goes back to mulroney...
 
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I dunno about Mulroney, a Conservative, 9:03 ...

but I do know that the Basi-Virk story goes back to Paul Martin, a Liberal.

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If Krog doesn't have the jam to do it, I'll tell you who might - the Squamish Nation government. Lands in question are subject to aboriginal claim and there's particulars about the way the land was alienated back in 1912 or thereabouts that have placed contingencies on non-native residents in Shalalth on Seton Lake and elsehere along the line; that's not Squamish Nation up there, rather Lilllooet Tribal Council, but the creation fo the right-of-way and the allotment of adjoining lands was all the same package of legislation; maybe only to do with IR lands, but I don't think so.....Crown assets alienated from the Government Reserve are all subject to reversion to Native title.

I'd rather see the Squamish Nation own that land than CNR.....(even if they build wall to wall condos along it, which is I'm sure part of CN's plans....)
 
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