Judge orders BC Rail documents returned or destroyed!


Fromt he Globe & Mail – March 15, 2011

by Mark Hume

Copies of more than one million pages of documents related to a
political corruption trial, including confidential material from B.C.
government cabinet meetings and internal e-mails among MLAs, must be
destroyed or returned to the Crown.

In a decision released
Tuesday, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie of the Supreme Court of
British Columbia ruled that Dave Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi cannot
retain documents they obtained through disclosure in the BC Rail case.

She stated the three former government employees only had the
material, which included RCMP files, to prepare their cases – and they
are not entitled “to use the material for purposes collateral to making
full answer and defence in this proceeding.”

Dave Basi and Mr.
Virk, former ministerial aides who were convicted on fraud and breach of
trust charges, had argued they should be able to keep the documents and
to release them in the event of a public inquiry into the sale of BC

Aneal Basi, a low-level former government information
officer, against whom charges of money laundering were dropped, had
wanted to retain the material for use in possible future litigation.

Judge MacKenzie said when the material was released to them during
disclosure, all three were bound by an implied undertaking, and that
undertaking has not expired even though the trial has ended.

ordered lawyers for the three men to “deliver forthwith to the Office of
the Special Prosecutor or the RCMP … any and all documents disclosed by
the Crown.”

As an alternative, stated Judge MacKenzie, the
lawyers can file affidavits with the Crown saying the material has been

Crown lawyer Janet Winteringham said much of the
material at issue is in electronic form, but there are also substantial
paper files.

“It’s got to be over one million pages,” she said.

Bolton, Dave Basi’s lawyer, said the judgment means all the material
gathered during the long-running case will not be seen by the public.

would conclude its a decision that forecloses any public access to
those materials,” he said. “I think the judgment is pretty clear.”

Basi and Mr. Virk were convicted of leaking confidential government
files in relation to the government’s $1-billion sale of BC Rail in
2003. They were sentenced to two years less a day under house arrest.

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.