B.C. legislature Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James. (Black Press files)

B.C. legislature Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James. (Black Press files)

B.C. legislature clerk in spending scandal retires after wrongdoing found

Clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz were suspended last November

British Columbia’s top legislative official has retired after a report by a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada found he improperly claimed benefits and used legislature property for personal reasons.

New Democrat House Leader Mike Farnworth told the legislature that Clerk Craig James has retired with a “non-financial” settlement.

Both James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz were suspended last November amid allegations of receiving improper benefits and expensing spending on personal items.

In her report presented to the legislature, Beverley McLachlin found four of five administrative allegations against James were substantiated, while she said Lenz did not engage in misconduct.

Farnworth says Lenz will remain on paid leave.

Lenz and James had denied any wrongdoing, saying a report by the legislature Speaker harmed their reputation, adding that their expenses were approved.

James said in a statement that he has been in public service for more than four decades and has fond memories of his time at the legislature, but he has now “had enough.”

“I have been publicly ridiculed and vilified. My family has been deeply hurt and continues to suffer humiliation. In an effort to put an end to that, I have decided to retire, and reach a settlement with the Legislative Assembly,” he said.

He added that when the allegations were disclosed to him, he provided detailed written submissions and supporting documents to the legislative assembly, but many of them are not referred to or addressed in McLachlin’s report.

“I believe the public has a right to see those submissions and documents, so they can know and understand the whole picture and judge the truth of these matters for themselves,” he said.

James was set to hold a news conference later Thursday.

READ MORE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

B.C.’s Speaker, Darryl Plecas, said in a 76-page report released in January that based on what he had seen and heard at the legislature since being named Speaker in September 2017, that he felt obligated to contact the RCMP.

The Speaker alleged in his report that Lenz and James engaged in inappropriate spending on personal items and foreign trips. The report also alleged inappropriate vacation pay outs and retirement allowances.

Plecas told reporters Thursday that McLachlin’s report is a positive first step.

“We still have some way to go. We need better accountability systems,” he said.

Farnworth told the legislature that McLachlin noted several policy areas that the legislature needs to consider. He said the house leaders accepted all of her recommendations and he also tabled a status report detailing “considerable efforts” already undertaken by staff to address these issues.

Members of the legislature voted unanimously to suspend Lenz and James last November after learning of the ongoing RCMP investigation and the appointment of two special prosecutors.

Farnworth told the legislature in March that McLachlin would conduct a “confidential, impartial and independent investigation,” and her report will be made public.

McLachlin was tasked by the all-party legislative committee that oversees management of the legislature to review the Plecas report, the written responses, the legal submissions by Lenz and James and the subsequent Speaker’s report on the written responses.

McLachlin was also appointed to examine if the clerk and sergeant-at-arms improperly and knowingly received improper pay outs of vacation pay, improperly claimed and received retirement allowances, and improperly made purchases of a personal nature and filed expense claims to the legislature.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Nexii roof panel is lifted during construction of a Starbucks in Abbotsford. Alexzi Building Solutions will be building a manufacturing plant in Langford or North Cowichan to produce the sustainable construction panels. (Photo courtesy of Alexzi Building Solutions)
Langford eyed for facility to make green building alternative to concrete

Langford, North Cowichan possible sites for plant to create sustainable construction panels

Local MP Elizabeth May says the public has a right to know the identity of the company that plans to operate the massive warehouse proposed for Sidney on airport lands but residents who want to stop the project would probably have to go through the courts. (Black Press Media File)
MP Elizabeth May says public has right to know identity of Sidney warehouse operator

Residents wanting to stop the project would probably have to go through the courts, said May

Bukwila by Art Thompson, set at the steps of Lansdowne campus’ Wilna Thomas Cultural Centre, has been welcoming students to campus since 1997. (Photo courtesy of Camosun College)
World-renowned artist’s legacy lives on at Camosun College

Art Thompson made untold contributions toward Indigenous education, art and advocacy

Did you know, according to the CRD, every person produces an average of 185–200 litres of wastewater per day? Here’s where most of it gets treated, at the new wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. (CRD image)
View Royal signs on to wastewater funding plan

Capital Regional District requesting to borrow up to $34.3 million to upgrade infrastructure

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read