The Clerk of the B.C. Legislature denied Feb. 1 in B.C. Supreme Court that the fear of publicity caused her to return a large sum of money a year after she was paid $119,000 under a discontinued scheme.
Kate Ryan-Lloyd, who was the deputy clerk at the time, received the payment in February 2012 under a long-service award program. Ryan-Lloyd’s predecessor Craig James has pleaded not guilty to fraud and breach of trust charges, including one for improperly obtaining and keeping $257,988 under the same program.
Ryan-Lloyd earlier testified before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that she felt “uncomfortable” about keeping the money.
During cross-examination, James’s lawyer Gavin Cameron asked Ryan-Lloyd about the role of Bob Faulkner, the Legislative Assembly’s interim executive financial officer, and his relationship to her husband, Ken Ryan-Lloyd.
Faulkner and Ken Ryan-Lloyd both worked in the Office of the Auditor General before and after Faulkner’s seven-month secondment to the Legislature.
“You get the retirement benefit on February 15th of 2012, you repay it on February 13th, 2013,” Cameron said. “And the auditor general’s critical report comes out nine days later, on March 1st, 2013.”
“Correct,” replied Ryan-Lloyd.
Cameron: ”But your husband was employed by the Office of the Auditor General in 2012 and 2013, correct?
Cameron: “And your husband and Mr. Faulkner are or were friends?”
“No, they were colleagues,” Ryan-Lloyd shot back. “They were colleagues in the Office of the Auditor General.”
Ryan-Lloyd initially said she was unaware in February 2013 that a report was coming.
“What happened is that in February, early February of 2013 or January of 2013, around that time, you received advice, through your links to the Office the Auditor General, that effectively the train was on the tracks, you should get out of the way?” Cameron asked.
Ryan-Lloyd replied: “Absolutely not. I received information, as did all of my colleagues, who were part of the executive team, who were working with Mr. Faulkner. He provided regular advice with respect to the status of financial audit work. My husband, at the time, was a performance auditor. And pursuant to the very strict professional standards in that office, he was explicitly excluded, at that time, before and after, subsequently, to any involvement with the Legislature as an audited institution.”
Cameron said that in January 2013, Faulkner told her that Auditor General John Doyle “had significant questions” about the payment of the retirement allowances in the wake of his scathing July 2012 report on shoddy Legislative Assembly accounting.
Ryan-Lloyd repeated her earlier answer, before Cameron showed a transcript of her interview with former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin on March 19, 2019 in Victoria.
The Legislative Assembly Management Committee hired McLachlin to investigate whether James committed misconduct, after Speaker Darryl Plecas had revealed evidence of corruption by James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.
According to the transcript, Kate Ryan-Lloyd said: “the auditors had questions with respect to the payment of these retirement allowances. So I asked him to keep me apprised in their work in this area, hoping that things will be balanced in order. So apparently, there was a lack of documentation. In particular, I was advised by the chief financial officer of the day, Mr. Faulkner, Miss Woodward’s predecessor, that no legal opinion was on record.”
Cameron asked Ryan-Lloyd again if she agreed that the imminent, critical report from auditor general was “at least a factor causing you to return the funds.”
“No, I don’t agree because I was not sure of the contentions of the auditor general’s finding, what was the substance of that finding,” she said.
The trial is expected to last another five weeks and hear another two-dozen witnesses.
Meanwhile, Holmes denied theBreaker.news application to webcast the trial, ruling that it would be too cumbersome for the court to allow with the trial in progress. Lawyers for James and the Crown were mutually opposed.
Court rules allow media outlets to make applications between 14 and 60 days before a trial. theBreaker.news submitted an application the week before the trial based on the risk of the rapidly evolving omicron pandemic and the judge’s late admission that accredited lawyers can use the court’s Microsoft Teams system to observe the proceedings from anywhere in Canada.
The application suggested the webconference system could have been repurposed to enable the trial to be viewed online.
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