The senior civil servant charged with obstruction of justice has argued in court that he was just following orders when he committed the alleged acts that led to his prosecution.

Peter Andrews made the comments in an affidavit filed in court to support his request that the Government of New Brunswick pay for his legal defence in the criminal case.

nb-paul-robichaud-220

Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud says he never interfered in any way with an Aquaculture Act investigation of his brother. (CBC)

“At all relevant times I acted in obedience to my employer’s orders … in the reasonable performance of the duties of my employment,” Andrews says.

He goes on to say he “acted solely in the best interests” of his employer, the province, “completely within the scope of my duties and responsibilities.”

Andrews was the executive director of corporate services in the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries until he was charged with obstruction of justice earlier this year.

He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial on that charge in March 2014.

Andrews filed a court application to have the province pay his legal bills, arguing his actions were part of his job.

The province argued that can’t be determined until the criminal trial is over, so it’s too early to agree to pay. Justice Paulette Garnett agreed and rejected Andrews’ application.

Paul Robichaud denies involvement

Andrews was charged as a result of an anonymous letter to the Opposition Liberals alleging political interference with a 2011 investigation of Donat Robichaud, the brother of Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud.

Donat Robichaud was charged with a violation of the provincial Aquaculture Act. He pleaded guilty in April 2012 and paid a fine of $480.

The anonymous letter alleged Paul Robichaud himself tried to block the investigation. There has been no evidence to support that, and the deputy premier has never been charged with anything.

"I never interfered in any kind of way in the process, before and after. If I interfered, I didn't have a lot of success because he went to court,” Paul Robichaud joked.

But the letter prompted the RCMP to launch an investigation that led to the criminal charge against Andrews.

RCMP documents filed as part of the criminal prosecution allege Andrews asked the head of enforcement at the department, Wilbert Sabine, to hold off on laying the charge until Paul Robichaud was told of it.

Five days later, the RCMP affidavit said, Andrews told Sabine not to lay the charge, and later tried to have it withdrawn.

Those RCMP affidavits form part of the case against Andrews and their allegations have not been proven in court.

In his affidavit supporting his request that the province pay his legal defence, Andrews says that in February 2013, his deputy minister, Robert Rioux, and the deputy minister of human resources, Kim Daley, both agreed with him that he had acted “properly and completely within the scope of my employment duties and responsibilities.”

In separate affidavits, both Rioux and Daley deny saying that. Rioux says the province can’t decide on paying until Andrews’ criminal case is “finalized.”

Daley says the government pays employee legal costs if they were negligent but within the law. Because Andrews is accused of a criminal offence, she says, the policy doesn’t apply.

Daley says at a meeting with Andrews’ lawyers to discuss whether the province would pay, his lawyers couldn’t provide more information on the charges because the Crown hadn’t disclosed evidence yet.