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HomeBusinessExclusive: Law firm defending B.C. Legislature’s disgraced ex-sergeant-at-arms bills taxpayers $50,000

Exclusive: Law firm defending B.C. Legislature’s disgraced ex-sergeant-at-arms bills taxpayers $50,000

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Bob Mackin

The law firm that represents Gary Lenz, the B.C. Legislature’s former Sergeant-at-Arms, has billed taxpayers almost $50,000.

But the firm retained by ex-Clerk Craig James has not submitted any invoices to the Legislature.

Ex-Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz (left), ex-Speaker Linda Reid and Acting Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd (BC Leg)

theBreaker.news confirmed with the Clerk’s office that McEwan Cooper Dennis LLP has been paid $49,966 during the fiscal year that began April 1. As of last week, no invoices had been submitted by James’s lawyers at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.

Procedural clerk Artour Sogomonian said the Legislative Assembly does not disclose the specifics of what legal services were provided, to whom, or for what purpose, in part because solicitor-client privilege applies.

Lenz retired Oct. 1 before the release of a report that found he breached the Police Act by lying to former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin. Her misconduct investigation cleared Lenz last May. The Police Act investigation by former Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard also found Lenz failed to investigate James’s 2013 bulk removal of liquor from the Legislature.

A year ago, on Nov. 20, 2018, British Columbians were shocked when James and Lenz were both suspended with pay and escorted out of the Parliament Buildings after unanimous vote of the Legislature. The RCMP admitted the duo had been under investigation for several months and special prosecutors David Butcher and Brock Martland had been appointed. Speaker Darryl Plecas had called in the RCMP, after he and chief of staff Alan Mullen found evidence of corruption.

James retired in May on the eve of the release of McLachlin’s report. She found James had committed misconduct by purchasing more than $4,000 in suits and luggage for personal use and by creating a $257,988 retirement allowance for himself. She also cited James for the 2013 booze removal and for keeping a wood splitter and trailer bought with Legislature funds at his house for almost a year.

The RCMP investigation continues. A source familiar with the investigation, but not authorized to speak publicly, told theBreaker.news that the first charge recommendation reports are in the hands of the special prosecutors.

Clerk Craig James swore Christy Clark in as Westside-Kelowna MLA in 2013, near Clark’s Vancouver office. (Facebook)

After the suspensions, Deputy Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd became Acting Clerk and Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms Randy Ennis took over from Lenz. Ennis retired at the end of last May. Greg Nelson was appointed Acting Sergeant-at-Arms in October.

In the wake of the Nov. 20, 2018 drama, James and Lenz demanded their jobs back. At a Nov. 26, 2018 news conference at the Fasken law office in Vancouver, a CTV reporter asked James and Lenz who was paying for lawyers Mark Andrews and Gavin Cameron. 

Said James: “There is a policy in the Legislative Assembly whether the legal fees in matters such as this would be borne by the Legislative Assembly. But the policy also exists that at the end of the day, if somebody is found guilty, that money would have to be repaid. It’s like the government’s indemnity program.”

After James finished his answer, Cameron said: “Just to be fair, I don’t think you should take from that that that’s where my fees are being paid from. I’ll leave it at that. But I don’t want that impression.” 

Cameron did not reply to theBreaker.news. Reached by phone Nov. 18, Andrews declined to answer questions about the lack of invoices by his firm to the Legislature.

“I don’t think you have any business asking me any more questions about how [James] is or is not funding his legal fees,” Andrews said. “That’s a privileged, confidential matter and not something which you should be asking about, in my view.”

Speaker Darryl Plecas (left) and chief of staff Alan Mullen (Mackin)

Could the invoices have gone elsewhere in the B.C. government? Sogomonian said no.

I can confirm that any invoices received for legal services provided to the Legislative Assembly, a member or an employee of the Assembly (past or present) would be approved and paid by the Assembly from Vote 1 [Legislative Assembly] funds,” he said. “Such costs would not be transmitted to another party for payment.”

Robert Cooper, on behalf of Lenz, and Cameron, on behalf of James, both appeared in Surrey Provincial court Oct. 9 to argue against an application by Postmedia to unseal the RCMP’s April information to obtain an evidence production order.

The Fasken website says that Andrews is the lead counsel for BC Hydro in the successful defence of the $10.7 billion Site C dam in B.C. and federal cases filed by environmental and aboriginal groups.

BC Hydro’s financial information returns from 2012 to 2019 show payments totalling $36.49 million to Fasken.

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