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

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Former junior Cowichan Piggy Doug Fraser joins professional ranks

Fraser grew up in Ladysmith and played junior and senior rugby with Cowichan

Ladysmith Camera Club and Ladysmith and District Credit Union combine forces for calendar

Not one, but two versions produced featuring local photographers and local scenes

VIDEO: Mattress fire at Cowichan Hospital under investigation

The Cowichan District Hospital was locked down on Tuesday afternoon due to… Continue reading

UPDATE: Gofundme campaign started for wife of victim in double fatal head-on crash

Clifford Bishop, 54, a resident of Cassidy, had been a truck driver since he was 18

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Prolific offender arrested in “dynamic takedown” in Crofton

A 30-year-old Vancouver-area man faces at least six charges after what police… Continue reading

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Most Read