bc-090108-winston-blackmore1

The B.C. govenment says admitted polygamist Winston Blackmore, who is suing the government, is responsible for the criminal charges laid against him even though the charges have since been thrown out by the courts. ((CBC))

The B.C. government says Winston Blackmore brought what turned out to be an unsuccessful prosecution on himself by openly practising polygamy.

The province has filed a statement of defence after Blackmore, one of the leaders of the polygamous community of Bountiful, sued earlier this year, claiming his rights had been violated.

The initial lawsuit claimed the province wrongly ignored multiple legal opinions advising against laying charges, and Blackmore said he had since suffered mental distress and public embarrassment.

But the province argued in documents filed with the court last month that Blackmore invited the prosecution by openly practising polygamy, which he knew violated Canadian law.

Blackmore and James Oler were arrested in January 2009, two decades after police began looking into the community and after several prosecutors shied away from pursuing charges.

The charges were thrown out in B.C. Supreme Court last fall after the men's lawyers successfully argued in court that the decision of a previous special prosecutor not to lay charges was final.