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.

 

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Ferry sailing delayed after divers check Northern Adventure

Divers called in to check propeller shaft, sailing to Haida Gwaii now 140 minutes behind

Haida Gwaii fishery staff gear up for marine mammal rescues

Haida fishery guardians and DFO fishery officers better equipped to rescue marine mammals

On the Wing: Heatwaves, forests and shorebirds

By Margo Hearne The dog days of summer continue. It’s been hot… Continue reading

In Pictures: Great crowd, good vibes at 2018 Edge of the World

Haida Gwaii music fest gets a bumper turnout with summer sun and deep talent pool

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Northern B.C. residents face more evacuation orders as some smoke clears up

Regional District of BulkleyNechako issued new, expanded evacuation orders for remote areas Saturday

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Most Read