|David Basi & lawyer Michael Bolton outside BC Supreme Court|
Defence lawyers ordered by BC Supreme Court to return Basi-Virk evidence for destruction
By BILL TIELEMAN
More than one million pages of Crown evidence disclosed to defence lawyers for convicted former B.C. government ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk has been ordered returned to police for destruction.
Basi and Virk had been attempting to retain the evidence related to their disclosing confidential government documents before the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail in 2003 to lobbyists for a losing bidder.
UPDATE - JUDGEMENT NOW RELEASED SEE LINK - But Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie ruled in a decision released Tuesday that documents disclosed – including RCMP files, B.C. Liberal MLA emails and cabinet meeting information – must be returned by defence lawyers to police or the Special Prosecutor for destruction.
Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton said in an interview with 24 hours Tuesday afternoon that the public will likely never now see the evidence in a political corruption case that exploded with an unprecedented raid on the B.C. Legislature on December 28, 2003.
“I think it forecloses any public disclosure of these documents, short of an application to the judge,” Bolton said.
When asked if he and his client will turn over the documents, Bolton answered: “Absolutely – everyone must comply with the order.”
But Bolton said if a public inquiry were to be called by the government, the material would be made available to a Commissioner.
“If there were a public inquiry that would be a different ball game,” he said. Bolton added that no one, including media outlets, was restricted for applying to obtain the evidence disclosed to the defence.
B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark has to date rejected all calls for such an inquiry.
In an exclusive interview with 24 hours in November, 2010 Superintendent Kevin deBruyckere said allegations by a Basi supporter that the RCMP wanted to get back information disclosed in order to make it disappear were false.
“It’s nonsense. It’s just ridiculous,” de Bruyckere said at the time. “The Crown discloses material and at the end of the trial recovers that material.”
“There’s lots of material given through disclosure to these guys that they have no right to have,” he said.
In the November interview deBruyckere said that if a public inquiry was called the government and police documents will still be available.
“The disclosure material stays on our file for the legislated retention period, which in this case is at least 10 to 12 years, before any consideration is given to destruction of records,” he said.
Bolton said Tuesday that he can “only go by what police have said previously” about retaining the evidence for an inquiry.
Basi and Virk made surprise guilty please in October, 2010 to breach of trust and fraud for giving lobbyists confidential government documents on the sale in exchange for money and other benefits. They received sentences of two years less a day house arrest and the Crown declined to demand the repayment of $6 million in legal fees paid to their lawyer over the multi-year pre-trial hearings and trial, which was cancelled after hearing from only two witnesses.
Thousands of pages of police interviews, intercepted phone calls and other evidence detail Basi and Virk’s efforts but RCMP investigators say no elected officials were involved.
However, some of the documents raise significant questions about whether there was a cabinet leak to lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who both became Crown witnesses and were never charged by police. The defence theory alleged that a cabinet minister may have provided information separate from documents Basi and Virk admitted passing on to lobbyists.
A version of this story was prepared for 24 hours Vancouver newspaper online.