Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Price of Silence: BC Taxpayers on the Hook for Government Employees Legal Expenses

Some people just won't let sleeping dogs lie, eh? Thank the Gawds for people like BC's Auditor General who is like a dog who knows a juicy bone is buried in the backyard somewhere. He keeps digging and digging on behalf of taxpayers. 

As it mentions below, this isn't just about Basi-Virk, BC taxpayers have been on the hook for about 100 payments to BC government employees over the last 15 years, or so.
The government has not taken a position in the case, but a lawyer known as an amicus curiae was been appointed for unrepresented interests. Michael Frey opposed access to the files.

Independent MLA John van Dongen was also granted intervenor status in the case. Van Dongen is pushing for the files to be released because he believes a complete audit is in the public interest.

Basi and Virk admitted in the fall of 2010 to leaking confidential BC Rail documents, only months into a criminal trial that took six years to commence. The documents were handed to a lobbyist for a U.S. company that was bidding on a section of BC Rail after the Liberal government decided to privatize the railway.

Auditor General back in court over BC Rail documents
Laura Baziuk | Email news tips to laura.baziuk@corusent.com

A judge has reserved his decision in the BC Auditor-General's case to try and get access to more documents related to the BC Rail scandal.

In John Doyle's sights are documents from a lawyer and two government aides who pleaded guilty to wrongdoing in the sale of BC Rail.

Those records from Dave Basi and Bobby Virk are protected under solicitor client privilege.

A lawyer appointed by the court to examine the matter argues Doyle's authority does not trump client privilege.

Lawyer Louis Zivot says Doyle's limited access wouldn't breach that privilege.

"If an auditor does not have access to solicitor-client information to do his audits, they may be impaired."

Doyle claims those files will shed more light into why taxpayers had to pick up the massive legal tab.

Lawyers had made final submissions in chambers, picking apart the Auditor-General's role, and arguing whether the public interest overrides that client privileg before the judge reserved his decision.

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