Michael Bolton, lawyer for former ministerial aide Dave Basi, said the emails are critical and potentially explosive. ((CBC))

A B.C. Supreme Court judge gave Premier Gordon Campbell and several senior staff members and former cabinet ministers an Aug. 17 deadline Monday to turn over emails related to the controversial $1-billion sale of BC Rail to CN Rail in 2003.

The order includes former finance minister Gary Collins, former transportation minister Judith Reid and former education minister Christy Clark.

Once they are produced, Justice Elizabeth Bennett will review them and decide what is relevant to the trial of former ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk. They were charged with fraud and breach of trust following an RCMP raid of the legislature in 2003.

Dave Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, said the emails are critical and potentially explosive.

"Based on the showing we've been able to put forward so far, based on what we do know and what we do have, they appear to be highly relevant to our defence," said Bolton.

B.C. NDP critic Leonard Krog said it is about time the B.C. Liberals showed co-operation in the case.

"It speaks to their arrogance, more than anything, that we're here today — 5½  years after the raid on the legislature — having to get a ruling from a judge to produce evidence that should have been kept, preserved and handed over to the defence a long time ago," said Krog.

Defence lawyers told reporters last Thursday that many of these executive-branch emails related to the BC Rail sale may have been erased as recently as May.