Prosecutor to be named in email deletion case

Privacy commissioner says records not kept or not created to avoid scrutiny under freedom of information laws

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

An independent prosecutor is being appointed to see if a B.C. Liberal political staffer should be charged for lying under oath to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham referred the case to the RCMP in October after investigating the deletion of emails by ministerial assistant George Gretes in Transportation Minister Todd Stone’s office in late 2014. Denham interviewed Gretes and other staffers after former executive assistant Tim Duncan made a complaint to her describing deletion of emails that were sought by the NDP opposition under freedom of information (FOI) legislation.

Denham’s investigation found that in the transportation ministry case, records were intentionally deleted to avoid public release. Gretes denied under oath that he had taken over Duncan’s computer keyboard to “triple delete” a series of emails related to meetings on transportation safety on Highway 16 in northern B.C.

The Criminal Justice Branch announced Thursday it was appointing Vancouver lawyer Greg DelBigio to see if Gretes should be charged. Within hours, DelBigio resigned from the case because he is representing a B.C. Liberal Party staffer charged with Election Act violations.

Denham said she referred the case to the RCMP after Gretes “admitted to giving false testimony under oath.”

Gretes resigned when Denham’s report was released. Stone has repeatedly said since that whatever emails were deleted from Duncan’s computer, official records related to a series of meetings with communities along Highway 16 are intact.

NDP leader John Horgan said the appointment of a special prosecutor means the government won’t be able to “just sweep it under the rug” and it allows the police to look beyond the issue of whether false testimony was given.

Denham’s report looked at three FOI responses to the B.C. government and found incidents of “negligent searches for records, a failure to keep adequate email records, a failure to document searches, and the willful destruction of records responsive to an access request.”

Denham spoke to an all-party committee of MLAs this week, calling for the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to be changed to include a “duty to document” key actions and decisions by government.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii libraries announce their most popular books from the past year

These titles had islanders booking it to the library in 2019

Route 26 reinstated from Skidegate to Alliford Bay

B.C. Ferries service will begin later in January

On the Wing: Christmas bird count reports, part 1

Haida Gwaii’s bird count report for Port Clements and Rose Spit

Queen Charlotte housing assessment jumps 31 per cent

Port Clements and Masset also see increases, according to B.C. Assessment

Pipeline at centre of B.C. conflict is creating jobs for First Nations: chief

All 20 elected band councils along the Coastal GasLink pipeline route have signed benefits agreements

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Most Read