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

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

Chief Joe Alphonse
OP-ED: Williams Lake municipal, regional councils lack awareness on historical trauma

Systemic racism isn’t always obvious to those that are not experiencing it

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Most Read