** Post updated below…. The special prosecutor has now recused himself since this was posted at 11:00 am
From Jennifer Moreau, of the Burnaby Now:
This just in! The province is appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recent report to government. Great news, considering the awful state of our access to information laws in B.C.
When reporters file freedom of information (FOI) requests, they’re often delayed getting back to us, most of the content is greyed out, and sometimes we’re just told there are no records. There are a couple years worth of backlogged complaints. Let’s hope this investigation improves things.
November 19, 2015 15-23
Appointment of Special Prosecutor
Victoria – The Criminal Justice Branch (CJB), Ministry of Justice, announced today that Greg DelBigio, QC has been appointed as a Special Prosecutor to provide legal advice to the R.C.M.P. in relation to an investigation arising out of Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recent report to government.
As disclosed in the report, the Information and Privacy Commissioner referred information to the R.C.M.P. for investigative consideration. This information related to a request for access to records that was made of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the alleged conduct of an individual who was employed as a Ministerial Assistant at the time of the request.
On November 10, 2015, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Justice Branch, M. Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, QC (the ADAG), received a formal request from the R.C.M.P. that she consider the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to provide police with legal advice during the course of their investigation.
The ADAG concluded, based on the request and the information available to her about the alleged circumstances of the case, that the appointment of a Special Prosecutor is in the public interest. Under the Crown Counsel Act, the ADAG will consider appointing a Special Prosecutor where some aspect of an investigation, or prosecution file, carries a significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in prosecutorial decision making. A Special Prosecutor works independent from government, the Ministry of Justice and the CJB.
On November 13, 2015 the ADAG appointed Mr. DelBigio as Special Prosecutor in the matter. He has been given a mandate by the ADAG to:
Offer such legal advice to the investigative agency as may be necessary in the circumstances;
Conduct an independent assessment of any Report to Crown Counsel (RTCC) that may be submitted and make the charging decision he deems appropriate in the exercise
– See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/opinion/blogs/community-conversations-1.752422/province-appoints-special-prosecutor-to-investigate-following-privacy-commissioner-s-report-1.2115392#sthash.1Okv3VhW.dpuf
I love how the government appointed this prosecutor on November 13th… and didn’t issue a press release until today – after the fall legislative session has ended. No questions, again.
It will be interesting to see how and where this investigation goes. Keep in mind in the case of the alleged deletion of the Ministry of Transportation emails by George Gretes, that occurred in November 2014.
We now know that the BC government removed section 5 of The Offence Act from Bill 18 ( Information Management Act), in May of this year, 2015. Prior to this removal, it was a general offence to improperly destroy government documents or records. I wrote about that twice when it happened in May.
We also know now, that those penalties were removed just two days prior to Tim Duncans revelations, about the deletion of those Highway of Tears emails. Mere days after my blog posts, the NDP released this:
It begs the question: Because Section 5 of the offence act still applied in BC with respect to document destruction, at the time the emails were deleted, would it apply to any offences committed before it was removed?
To date, the premier has never been asked about the removal of the offence act ( and associated penalties) from this bill. There has been no questions put to Minister Amrik Virk either. You may want to ask why.
Is this government Complicit, or Incompetent? You decide.
Full background on this entire story, including the questions still standing on the appointment of Loukidelis, here: http://lailayuile.com/2015/11/12/complicit-or-incompetent-questions-continue-to-pile-up-for-the-premier-who-continues-to-ignore-them-all/
I’ve out with my phone off all afternoon and just catching up. Since this posting at 11 am, the special prosecutor has withdrawn. A new prosecutor, hopefully one with no connection and truly arms length to government, will be appointed. http://www.cknw.com/2015/11/19/special-prosecutor-withdraws-from-investigation-into-b-c-deleted-emails-report/
Special prosecutor Greg DelBigio who was appointed to independently assess any decision on possible charges into a former government staffer who deleted government emails and allegedly lied under oath.
Neil MacKenzie with the Criminal Justice Branch says DelBigio has withdrawn over a potential case of conflict of interest.
“Questions were raised in relation to another matter in which Mr. DelBigio is acting as a defence counsel, the branch hasd some further discussions with DelBigio about that.”
It turns out he is also the defence lawyer for a B.C. Liberal party staffer charged with Election Act violations related to the ethnic outreach scandal.
The branch says out of an abundance of caution and respect for the importance of maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice, he’s withdrawn.
The branch is now looking for a new special prosecutor.