Kate Ryan-Lloyd returned a sum of money she held for a year, nine days before the Auditor General issued a scathing report on controversial retirement packages.
Craig James’s defence lawyer Gavin Cameron showed the B.C. Legislature clerk her Feb. 20, 2013 letter about the return of a February 2012 payment under a discontinued program intended for retiring senior officials. Ryan-Lloyd, then the deputy to James, cited “personal reasons.”
“That was the only description you gave as to why you were returning funds, nine days before the auditor general’s report came up,” Cameron remarked in B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 31.
John Doyle’s update to the July 2012 Audit of the Legislative Assembly’s Financial Records found none of the payments to James, Ryan-Lloyd and two others were publicly disclosed, as required under the Financial Information Act, even though their regular salaries were.
When the trial opened Jan. 24, James pleaded not guilty to five charges, including breach of trust for improperly obtaining and keeping $257,988 from the long-service award scheme. Ryan-Lloyd was earmarked $118,915.84, but returned $83,235 in 2013.
Ryan-Lloyd testified she didn’t go into detail about her concerns with the money, because “I didn’t intend this letter to be accusatory of Mr. James.”
She said she had received legal advice, including from a tax lawyer. Her husband was employed by the Office of the Auditor General, although she didn’t cite that as a reason.
“I met with Mr. [Chris] Considine just to ensure that um, again, my understanding of what options would be best available to me were understood.”
She testified that she also met with Speaker Bill Barisoff and clerk emeritus George MacMinn about the payment, without James, and remembered seeing a poster “think like a taxpayer.”
Earlier, in her Crown-led evidence, Ryan-Lloyd explained she was “humiliated” and “quite embarrassed” that she could not obtain a copy of the legal opinion about the payments from the Speaker’s office that James claimed to exist.
“I had been led to believe one thing when in fact another was true,” Ryan-Lloyd said.
Meanwhile, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes also heard from one of James’s Cordova Bay neighbours, gift shop owner Jamie Cassels.
Cassels testified it takes him 23 minutes to drive to work, near the Inner Harbour. He said he saw the wood splitter and trailer James bought with public funds on “a little paving stone area” out front of James’s house. He said he also saw a truck, Jeep and SUV, and Airstream trailer. He testified that he never saw the wood splitter used, nor did he see James chopping wood.
The trial is expected to last another five weeks and hear another two-dozen witnesses.
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