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

Saanich Police: most common road safety reports are motor vehicle collisions

Police department also hears a “tremendous” amount of complaints from the public about bad driving

Sidney has highest walk-in clinic wait times in the country: report

Several Vancouver Island facilities wait times notably poor

Search underway as Our Place Society CEO Don Evans resigns

‘It’s time for me to take a break to recharge my batteries’

Victoria shuttle service aims to use cruise ship waste as fuel

Pacific Northwest Transportation Services wants to have a zero emission fleet by 2026

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

Thunberg ‘a bit surprised’ to be Time ‘Person of the Year’

‘I could never have imagined anything like that happening,’ she said in a phone interview

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Toronto Raptors, Don Cherry top the list of Canadians’ Google searches in 2019

‘Champions’ was the theme of the last year, Google said

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Most Read