The British Columbia Supreme Court judge heading the public inquiry into money laundering in the province issued his first ruling on media access to documents, after an application by theBreaker.news.
theBreaker.news sought copies of the applications for participant status by B.C. Lottery Corporation CEO Jim Lightbody and Fred Pinnock, the retired RCMP officer and whistleblower. Commissioner Austin Cullen decided Oct. 25 to grant Lightbody full standing, so that his lawyer could cross-examine other witnesses. Pinnock did not qualify, but he still may be called as a witness when hearings begin in spring 2020.
Lightbody’s lawyer, Robin McFee, consented to the release of his client’s documents, while Pinnock’s lawyer, Paul Jaffe, opposed the application. Commission rules call for applications for standing to be available to the public, but Cullen later directed that they be only be summarized in his findings. He cited a concern that premature disclosure might compromise the commission’s ability to pursue investigations into events detailed by applicants.
Cullen was satisfied that release of Lightbody’s material would not compromise the commission or result in unfairness to any third party not represented at the hearing. As for Pinnock’s supplementary materials, Cullen wrote that they contain serious allegations against specific named individuals.
“In his materials, Mr. Pinnock acknowledges he has no documents, emails or notes in support of any assertions made in his materials and “[a]ny corroboration in hard copy of what I have to say must come from other witnesses, or documents obtained through the [freedom of information] process,” Cullen wrote.
As such, Cullen ruled it would be inappropriate to release Pinnock’s material (except for email from September) at this time because premature disclosure of information could taint or influence the evidence of potential witnesses or lead to the destruction of documentary or electronic evidence.
“It is apparent that the allegations in Mr. Pinnock’s materials rest entirely on the reliability of third parties who spoke to Mr. Pinnock 12-14 years ago, about what they either observed or believed about the conduct of others,” Cullen wrote. “In other words, Commission counsel will need to obtain and review documents and interview a significant number of witnesses to determine whether and to what extent Mr. Pinnock’s materials reveal a viable body of evidence for the Commission’s attention and consideration.”
Cullen did, however, reveal the lengthy title of Pinnock’s undated supplementary submission, which was provided to the commission counsel on Oct. 17: “Summary of Observations, Recollections and Conclusions of Retired RCMP S/Sgt Fred Pinnock, relative to the performance of persons within the BC Liberal Party, BC Civil Service, “E” Division RCMP and the [Solicitor General ministry’s] Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch relative to legal gambling environments within British Columbia.”
Lightbody’s supplementary submissions stated that he has “faced criticism in the media” and it specifically cited a story published by theBreaker.news last March under the headline: “It’s brutal: BCLC CEO calls spin doctors for help amid casino money laundering scandal.”
“Mr. Lightbody faces the possibility of further adverse comment or criticism during the course of the Commission that could affect his reputational, privacy and/or legal interests,” said Lightbody’s submission. “Standing is therefore necessary, as full participatory rights in the Commission will ensure that Mr. Lightbody’s counsel has the ability to properly safeguard his interests.”
Lightbody is on leave from BCLC to battle cancer. His temporary substitute is former Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore.
Pinnock was commander of the RCMP’s Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team from 2005 to 2008. He had warned the BC Liberal government that casinos were becoming a haven for organized crime, but Solicitor-General Rich Coleman disbanded Pinnock’s team anyway in 2009. At an Oct. 18 hearing before Cullen, Jaffe described difficulties in obtaining documents from the BCLC freedom of information office and suggested Cullen could “fast-track the FOI process and make an order.” One of the duties of the BCLC CEO is to decide which documents are released to FOI applicants.
Cullen decided last month that Pinnock did not meet criteria for participant status because the thrust of his submission was that “he was attempting to overcome the apathy of those charged with the relevant responsibility; not that he was a part of it.”
The last of the commission’s five scheduled public meetings is Nov. 14 in Prince George’s Ramada Plaza.
Lawyer for Ghomeshi and Norman retained by ex-BCLC exec
Meanwhile, theBreaker.news has learned that former BCLC head of security and compliance Rob Kroeker has retained one of Canada’s most-prominent defence lawyers.
Marie Henein confirmed to theBreaker.news that she is representing Kroeker, who suddenly departed BCLC on July 2.
Brad Desmarais, the vice-president of casinos, assumed Kroeker’s responsibilities on an interim basis.
Kroeker was the first individual granted standing by the inquiry. Sixteen others are corporations, associations, societies, unions and government agencies. Desmarais is also applying for standing in the inquiry.
Henein, of Toronto-based “litigation boutique” Henein Hutchinson LLP, defended former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2016. She was also the lawyer for Vice Admiral Mark Norman, Canada’s former vice chief of defence staff. Prosecutors stayed a breach of trust charge against Norman last May.
Henein’s law firm partner Scott Hutchinson successfully defended former BC Liberal Party executive director Laura Miller. Miller was found not guilty by an Ontario judge in early 2018 of attempted mischief to data and illegal use of a computer charges relating to her mass-deletion of documents while working in the office of Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.