Premier John Horgan answers questions about the recent announcement that B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver won’t be running as leader in the next provincial election and about his cabinet minister Jinny Sims’ resignation during a press conference in the Hall of Honour at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Horgan defends chief of staff who shredded initial report accusing former B.C. legislature clerk

Premier John Horgan says Geoff Meggs shredded the document after a copy of it had been given to the police

Premier John Horgan defended how his chief of staff handled allegations made against the former clerk of the B.C. legislature when he first learned of them in July 2018 as the Liberals questioned a decision to shred a document outlining the accusations.

Horgan says Geoff Meggs shredded the document after a copy of it had been given to the police.

A report released Tuesday on the conduct of former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz by a former Vancouver deputy police chief shows the premier’s office was approached about allegations made against Lenz and former clerk Craig James.

It says a meeting that included Speaker Darryl Plecas and his deputy, Raj Chouhan, was held July 30, 2018, when a report of between 40 and 50 pages “with a long list of allegations” was produced.

Horgan says the men wanted Meggs to make the premier aware of the allegations but were told they should take the accusations to the police.

Once Meggs knew the document was in the hands of the police, Horgan said he shredded it.

“It was no longer a document that was worth keeping,” Horgan told reporters Wednesday. “It wasn’t created by our office. It was not a public document that was part of the running the government of British Columbia. It was in the hands of the police. There was no need for us to keep it.”

Lenz and James have both retired since allegations about their spending first came to light in November 2018. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

READ MORE: Police Act report finds retired B.C. sgt-at-arms commits neglect of duty

In a letter to Horgan on Wednesday, B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says Meggs should have brought what he was told to the attention of the police and the house leaders of the three parties in the legislature.

“Mr. Meggs has admitted to shredding the evidence presented to him. This is indefensible, as it is his obligation to bring possible criminal activity to the attention of the police,” Wilkinson said.

“Mr. Meggs’ conduct is an inexcusable obstruction of the judicial process. We are calling for you as premier to put your friendship aside, do what is right for the people of British Columbia, and immediately terminate your chief of staff, Geoff Meggs.”

Meggs said Plecas brought “multiple copies of a draft report” containing allegations against the clerk to the meeting.

“I was in no position to verify the allegations,” he said in a statement, adding that he urged the Speaker to go to the police and was later advised by Chouhan that he had done so.

“The document I reviewed was not evidence, but a copy of a summary of internal investigations conducted by the Speaker’s office. There was no supporting documentation or back-up material.”

Horgan said Meggs acted appropriately in his handling of the allegations and the document.

“Geoff didn’t create the document,” he added. “He didn’t know its accuracy. He didn’t know its origins. It wasn’t his responsibility.”

Horgan said he wasn’t briefed on the document at the time and didn’t know about the allegations against Lenz and James until after a special prosecutor was appointed

He said the deputy Speaker informed him of allegations of wrongdoing against James in the summer of 2018, but he declined a request for a meeting with Plecas because the operations of the legislature are the responsibility of the legislative assembly management committee.

Horgan said he also didn’t want to be involved because he had voted against the appointment of James when he was an opposition member of the legislature.

“More to the point though, and I think this is critically important, it’s not secret to those of you who covered this place for a long time I voted against the appointment of Craig James for a myriad of reasons, some of them were public, some of them were private,” he said.

“I felt that if there were allegations of wrongdoing, if I was involved, there could be a perception of bias.”

Horgan said he asked Meggs to take the meeting instead and a document was left behind, which was later shredded.

“Geoff shredded the document,” he said. “It was his to shred.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

RANCH MUSINGS: Humane livestock transportation: a measure of our care

It has been said that how we care for animals might just be a reflection of how we care for people

Casual Country 2020: Sister act

Sacred Heart Catholic Church bells donated by Alkali Lake Ranch owners in 1967

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

FOREST INK: Old growth forests under new management

On April 30, 2020, they submitted 14 recommendations to the Province in their report

No reported COVID-19 transmission in B.C.’s tree planting spring/summer effort

With the fall season winding up mid-October, it is hoped that trend will continue

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read