Nearly two years after Chilliwack MLA John Martin fired his constituency assistant for alleged thefts, the B.C. Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced a Special Prosecutor has been on the file all along, and the charge assessment process is now underway.
Back on March 2, 2017, Martin addressed reporters at the B.C. legislature to say that while implementing a new system in his office, he became aware that “money from my constituency account may have been inappropriately used.”
Martin was visibly upset as he announced the termination of his constituency assistant, a long-time employee.
Martin said the employee admitted he had misappropriated the funds.
“That person’s employment has been terminated,” he said.
Asked Thursday to comment on the announcement, Martin apologized but said that he had to decline any and all media inquiries at this time.
@BCProsecution announces appointment of Special Prosecutor Robin McFee QC in relation to 2017 allegations of theft of money from the constituency office of Chilliwack MLA John Martin. http://t.co/tat5Eyy58T pic.twitter.com/T8yrIeg7XO
— BCProsecutionService (@BCProsecution) January 31, 2019
In a press release issued on Jan. 31, the BCPS announced that Robin McFee, QC, was appointed Special Prosecutor on March 20, 2017 by Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General John Labossiere.
“Robin McFee QC was appointed Special Prosecutor when the RCMP requested that a Special Prosecutor be appointed for the purpose of providing legal advice during the investigation and any resulting prosecution,” the release stated. “Mr. Labossiere made the appointment under section 7 of the Crown Counsel Act because he considered it in the public interest to do so. The appointment of a Special Prosecutor is intended to avoid any potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice.”
McFee’s mandate was to provide legal advice to the RCMP investigators, conduct any related charge assessment, and assume conduct of the prosecution if charges were approved.
The charge assessment process is now underway.
It was not explained why it took so long to announce McFee’s appointment, just that it was postponed pending completion of the investigation and submission to Crown counsel.
“Following consultation with the Special Prosecutor, and taking into account the specific circumstances of the case, the BCPS concluded that issuing a media statement announcing the appointment was appropriate at this time.”
The constituency assistant who was terminated has not yet been named, although The Progress has been aware of who is under investigation from the start. His Twitter and Facebook profiles went dark immediately after Martin’s announcement, although he has since returned to social media and is active in the community.
McFee’s name will be familiar to some Chilliwack residents as he was the Crown counsel appointed special prosecutor to investigate former mayor and former solicitor general John Les.
McFee found no evidence that Les made improper land deals during his time at city hall, but McFee did charge former city planner Grant Sanborn with breach of trust in 2012. Sanborn pleaded not guilty to that, but guilty to a lesser, non-criminal charge.