British Columbia

Newly unsealed documents reveal more details of probe into legislature suspensions

Newly released court documents reveal police are investigating whether the purchase of a wood splitter and trailer by the former clerk of the B.C. Legislature represented a criminal breach of trust.

Former clerk of the House and sergeant-at-arms were suspended in November 2018

Former clerk of B.C.'s Legislative Assembly, Craig James, makes a statement to media in Vancouver in November 2018 with former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz in the background. (Ben Nelms/Canadian Press)

Newly released court documents reveal police are investigating whether the purchase of a wood splitter and trailer by the former clerk of the B.C. Legislature represented a criminal breach of trust.

Provincial Court Judicial Justice D. Brent Adair granted a production order to Surrey RCMP on April 10, 2019, allowing for the search of documents and data held at the legislature related to the actions of former clerk Craig James.

A redacted version of the production order was released to the media on Friday afternoon.

None of the allegations in the investigation have been proven in court. James has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in connection with his spending while serving as clerk.

The documents provide yet another chapter in a story that's been unfolding since Nov. 20, 2018, when James and former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz were suspended from their duties and British Columbians learned they were the subject of a criminal investigation.

Adair granted the April production order in response to sworn information from RCMP Const. Rafida Yonadim. Police were looking into whether James invoiced the legislative assembly $10,030 for a PJ Dump Trailer model D5102 on Nov. 9, 2017, even though he kept the trailer at his home and it never appeared at the legislature. The Wallenstein wood splitter was allegedly invoiced to the legislative assembly on Oct. 27, 2017, for $3,201, but also kept at James's home.

Both Gary Lenz, left, and Craig James say they have done nothing wrong. (Ben Nelms/Canadian Press)

A year ago, James and Lenz were both escorted from the legislature by police amid allegations of questionable spending. A steady stream of allegations against both men has trickled out since then, and they have both resigned from their posts while maintaining they've done nothing wrong.

In May, former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin released an explosive report which showed multiple examples of misconduct by James.

A wood splitter, retrieved from suspended clerk Craig James's home by RCMP, is shown at the legislature in Victoria on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Dirk Meissner/Canadian Press)

The report said James improperly accepted a $257,988 payout from a retirement benefit program, bought expensive suits and luggage for his personal use during trips to the U.K.; removed of a large amount of alcohol from the legislature to deliver to the home of former speaker Bill Barisoff and kept the wood splitter for personal use. 

McLachlin did not conclude that Lenz had committed misconduct, however another investigation by Doug LePard, former deputy chief of the Vancouver Police Department, concluded that Lenz had lied to McLachlin and other investigators, committing "very serious misconduct."

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