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

Esquimalt speed skating week helps province determine find fastest skater

Speed Week takes place on Dec. 17 at Archie Browning arena

Goldstream church offers free festive feast

Gordon United Church says all are welcome to attend Monday’s meal

Longtime Saanich drama group brings pirates onstage for traditional Christmas pantomime

St. Luke’s Players present Treasure Island Dec. 18 to Jan. 4

Sex workers march in downtown Victoria for Red Umbrella Day

Red umbrellas became a symbol of sex workers after an art installation in Italy

MLA Adam Olsen calls for ‘substantial’ changes in provincial economy

Green Party MLA also criticizes gap between government rhetoric and actions

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Pacioretty scores 2, Golden Knights top Canucks 6-3

Vegas goalie Fleury gets win No. 452

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Most Read