Auditor wants BC Rail trial costs

B.C. Auditor-General John Doyle has applied to B.C. Supreme Court for details of the legal defence costs for Dave Basi and Bob Virk, convicted of breach of trust last fall for their role in the sale of BC Rail operations.

Auditor-General John Doyle

VICTORIA – B.C. Auditor-General John Doyle has applied to B.C. Supreme Court for details of the legal defence costs for Dave Basi and Bob Virk, convicted of breach of trust last fall for their role in the sale of BC Rail operations.

In a petition filed Tuesday, a lawyer for the auditor-general’s office said the information is needed so Doyle can sign off on the province’s accounts for the fiscal year. The province’s lawyer offered to comply, but lawyers for Basi and Virk cited lawyer-client privilege and refused.

Attorney General Barry Penner said the government agreed to waive its confidentiality for the audit, and won’t oppose Doyle’s court application for the information.

In May, Penner appointed University of B.C. president Stephen Toope to review the province’s policy of covering legal fees for public servants who are sued or charged in connection with their duties.

The B.C. government’s decision to pay an estimated $6 million in defence costs has been a lightning rod for critics. The policy was for the government to pay for legal defence of employees, and recover those costs if the employee is found guilty.

Ministerial assistants in the B.C. Liberal government while BC Rail operations were up for sale in 2002-03, Basi and Virk pleaded guilty in October 2010 to disclosing confidential bidding information and accepting benefits from a competing bidder. Their guilty pleas put an abrupt end to an eight-year investigation and court case that began with a police raid on the B.C. legislature.

Cabinet members have insisted there was no political interference in the decision to pay Basi and Virk’s legal bills, made by the deputy finance minister and deputy attorney general. They determined that the majority of costs from years of pre-trial arguments would never be recovered from Basi and Virk, and costs to taxpayers would continue to mount without the guilty pleas.

In legislature debate in February, interim NDP leader Dawn Black noted that the $6 million legal payment was the same amount cut from the Crown prosecutor budget this year.

“The government only covers defence costs in the event of an acquittal, but two Liberal insiders were given a last-minute sweetheart deal that cut short the BC Rail corruption trial,” Black said.

B.C. Liberal house leader Rich Coleman replied that the accused filed a statement of fact with their guilty pleas, stating that they acted alone.

Just Posted

Barn fire closes Prairie Central Road

Fire quickly brought under control

Kevin Wall hits ground running with Chilliwack Chiefs

With four goals in his first five junior A BCHL games, the New York native has had an instant impact

Strong demand for cannabis retail applications anticipated in Chilliwack

Chilliwack council approves new cannabis retail zone and will monitor how it works for a year

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

Chilliwack’s Luke Wismer to play in BCHL Top Prospects Game

Wismer and 36 other 2003 and 2004 born stars will play Saturday morning at Prospera Centre.

VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election

He said people are making ‘noise about side issues but student safety is important’

B.C. couple plans sustainable, zero-waste life in the Shuswap

Plan includes building a tiny house before the snow flies

‘Furry-tail’ ending for cat family rescued from under B.C. bridge

A special mewment for the kittens, soon to be sent to Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven

Housing slowdown forecast to cool B.C. economy

Conference Board says pipeline, trade uncertainty affecting investment

B.C. hockey product eyes shot at Olympic spot with China

Fletcher is one of 24 who travelled to Shenzhen, China for the first official Olympic dev camp.

Are you feeling lazy? That’s OK – it’s just science

UBC study shows that humans are hardwired to prefer being sloth-like

LETTER: Who do we blame for the tragedy of Marrisa Shen’s death?

The B.C. girl was killed in a Burnaby park last July

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Seek compromise with U.S. on cannabis at border, lawyers urge Ottawa

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent tremors through Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector

Most Read