|B.C. Government slammed over missing emails in BC Rail case
|A defence lawyer in the Basi-Virk corruption trial said on June 23rd 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. (BC Rail).
The men were charged in 2004 with fraud and breach of trust. It is alleged Basi and Virk leaked information to lobbyists about the
deal that saw CN Rail acquire BC Rail in 2003 for $1 billion.
A third accused - Aneal Basi, who worked in government communications - is accused of money laundering.
Basi said the lost emails would prove the accused were acting on orders from higher up.
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.