Former B.C. premier dropped as lead of Manitoba Hydro review amid sex assault allegations

A Manitoba government spokesperson confirms former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell will no longer take part in a review of Manitoba Hydro project cost overruns.

Campbell to step aside in 'mutual decision' with Manitoba government, says provincial spokesperson

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell is named in a British newspaper as the subject of a sexual assault investigation dating back to his time as Canadian high commissioner in London. (Canadian Press)

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell will no longer be leading a review of cost overruns of Manitoba Hydro megaprojects amid sexual assault allegations.

The Manitoba government hired Campbell last fall to mount an external economic review of the decision-making process behind the Keeysak Generating Station and the Bipole III power transmission line projects. Both are estimated to have gone billions of dollars over budget.

On Tuesday, a Manitoba government spokesperson confirmed Campbell will step aside for the remainder of the review and the decision was "mutual."

"The province of Manitoba is committed to being a leader in policies and practices that prevent and address harassment in the workplace," the government spokesperson wrote in an email Tuesday.

"In the interest of reserving judgement until the facts come to light, we are pausing Mr. Campbell's role in the review until the responsible authorities have completed their review of these allegations."

The move comes after U.K.-based The Telegraph published a report late last week stating Campbell, former Liberal premier of B.C., was under investigation by Scotland Yard. The investigation stemmed from an incident alleged to have happened six years ago, when Campbell was living in London and serving as Canadian High Commissioner.

CBC News has not independently verified details published by the British newspaper.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper talks with Gordon Campbell, then Canada's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, during a business roundtable in London in 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

A spokesperson with London's Metropolitan Police Service said Friday a 54-year-old woman contacted police in January of this year. She alleged she had been sexually assaulted in January of 2013 at an address in Grosvenor Square.

London police did not, however, confirm the person being investigated is Campbell.

The initial Telegraph report also quoted Campbell's spokesperson saying an investigation conducted at the time by Canadian government found the allegations to be without merit.

Campbell was hired by the Ontario and Manitoba governments, and public relations firm Edelman, for separate reasons last year.

On Saturday, Edelman cancelled a contract it had with Campbell. It hired Campbell in July 2013 on a retainer as a consultant, the firm said.

As was the case with the Manitoba government, Edelman said the decision to part ways with Campbell was "mutually decided" until the U.K. investigation is completed.

Also in July 2018, Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government appointed Campbell to an independent commission aimed at looking into the previous Liberal government's spending and accounting practices.

In October 2018, Campbell was hired by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's government to probe Keeyask and Bipole III.

Hydro estimated in a 2017 annual report that Bipole III could cost over $5.04 billion when all is said and done, up from the initial estimate of $2.2 billion.

Meanwhile the expected cost of Keeyask, originally forecast to cost $6.5 billion, ballooned to $8.7 billion in 2017, according to Hydro. An outside review released the same year estimated the final cost could be more like $10.5 billion.