Update: May 04, 2012....Mr. Loukidelis has suddenly resigned after John Van Dongen raised the issue of the legality of the deal in the legislature earlier this week....
Last week we disagreed with former BC Liberal Government Attorney General Geoff Plant who insisted that, despite the fact that there was an 'understanding' (Mr. Plant's term, not mine) that legal fees would be waived after the fact, that there was no prior inducement for Mess'rs Basi and Virk to plead guilty and suddenly end the RailGate Trial in the fall of 2010 just before former BC Liberal Government Finance Minister Gary Collins was scheduled to appear as a witness, under oath, in open court.
Taking another tack on this matter....
If there was, indeed, an 'understanding', where might such a thing have come from if, as Mr. Plant indicated, the plea agreement (which involved an initial deal between the special prosecutor and the accused), and the fee waiver (which was subsequently granted separately by BC Liberal government Deputy Ministers David Loukidelis [Attorney General's Office] and Graham Whitmarsh [Finance]) were granted sequentially and separately?
According to a written statement from Mr. Loukidelis that Mr. Plant was good enough to point his readership towards that is not entirely clear.
Here is a portion of Mr. Loukidelis' statement from Oct 20, 2010 that was released to the media at the time:
"....On October 5, 2010, it came to the attention of the Legal Services Branch, Ministry of Attorney General, that the special prosecutor had proposed resolution of the prosecutions through guilty pleas.
Discussions then took place between the Legal Services Branch and defence counsel, including with respect to their clients’ liability to repay their legal costs. (The indemnities provided that they would have to do so unless acquitted on all counts.)
Legal Services Branch referred the matter to me and to the Deputy Minister of Finance. The Deputy Minister of Finance has authority under the Financial Administration Act respecting this matter. He and I considered the issue. A major consideration was the relatively small amounts that might be recovered from Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk compared to the millions of additional dollars it would cost the government to continue to fund defence, prosecution and court-related costs through to the completion of the trial, and to fund any appeals, with no guarantee of convictions.
Based on the above, in our respective capacities the Deputy Minister of Finance and I decided to release Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk from their liability to repay. I communicated that decision to the Attorney General on October 8, 2010.
No one outside the Legal Services Branch, myself and the Deputy Minister of Finance had any knowledge of this or involvement. For clarity, neither the special prosecutor nor the Attorney General had any knowledge of the matter or any involvement in this...."
Fair enough as far as it goes, right?
But please go back and re-read that last paragraph, bolded above.
It states that the BC Liberal Government Attorney General of the day, Mr. Mike de Jong, had no knowledge of the coming fee waiver agreement.
And neither did the Special Prosecutor for the RailGate case, Mr. William Berardino, who put together the initial guilty plea deal.
Which, taking Mr. Loukidelis' statement at face value, means that neither Mr. de Jong nor Mr. Berardino could have conveyed an 'understanding' to the accused or, we can only surmise, their lawyers.
Mess'rs Loukidelis and Mr. Whitmarsh obviously knew what was going down given that they put waiver deal together (sans Treasury Board approval, of course, which is a separate story we will return to in a later post).
But we can only assume that, as very fine public servants of the utmost integrity, neither Mr. Loukidelis nor Mr. Whitmarsh conveyed an 'understanding' to the defense prior to plea agreement.
If there was someone in the know who could have conveyed an understanding prior to the accused pleading guilty, who's left based on Mr. Loukidelis's statement?
As is clear from what Mr. Loukidelis wrote above, itwould appear that an unamed person or person(s) inside the 'Legal Services Branch' may have known what was happening before it happened.
Somehow I doubt that any full time members of said branch, which is made up of legal professionals and public servants of the utmost integrity, would convey such an understanding to the accused which could have later been viewed, at least by some, as a 'prior inducement'.
Is it possible that....
...They 'deputize' members of said legal branch when the need arises?
And/or hire legal-type 'consultants' with the right 'connections' for short-term assignments?
(just askin', because finding a record of any such short term hires in October of 2010 could, perhaps, be something that the Auditor General of British Columbia, who is looking into the Six Million Dollar Deal, might want to undertake)