Sudbury

Crown's out-of-court comments on Sudbury byelection bribery 'not justified' says defence

The defence lawyers in the Sudbury byelection bribery case say public comments made by the prosecutor contradict the findings of the police investigation.

Judge hopes that in four weeks he'll know if there is "any substance" to defence concerns

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Liberal Glenn Thibeault celebrate their byelection win in Sudbury, Ontario on Thursday Feb. 5, 2015. (The Canadian Press)

The defence lawyers in the Sudbury byelection bribery case say public comments made by the prosecutor contradict the findings of the police investigation.

They are referring to an interview federal prosecutor Vern Brewer did with reporters following the last court appearance for these bribery charges in November.

"Our allegation is that Mr. Thibeault sought certain benefits, offers, jobs or employment as part of his condition to run as an MPP," Brewer told reporters on Nov. 21.

"The section makes it an offence to offer, not necessarily to receive."

In court on Wednesday, Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan, who is representing former top Liberal official Pat Sorbara, says these comments are "inconsistent with positions taken throughout the course of the investigation"

Greenspan and Michael Lacy, the lawyer for prominent Sudbury businessman Gerry Lougheed convinced a Sudbury judge on Wednesday to adjourn the case until Jan. 18 so this dispute can be sorted out.

"The comments he made outside of court suggesting a certain state of affairs that at least from our perspective is different from our understanding," Lacy told reporters outside of court today.

"Everyone has a right to have a discussion with the press, as long as what they say is appropriate," Greenspan continued.

"And it's our view, arguably, that what was said ought not to have been said and isn't justified."

Brewer was not in court on Wednesday, but his co-counsel David McKercher said this was the first he had heard of these concerns from the defence.

It was suggested in court that Brewer and the entire federal prosecutors office may have to be taken off of this case, but the judge said that hopefully in four weeks it will be known if there is "any substance" to the defence concerns.

Lacy also said it's too early to outright call for a change in prosecution. 

"It's a bit premature to commit to what's going happen until we see how the issue gets resolved," he told reporters.

Lougheed and Sorbara are accused of offering former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier a bribe to step aside so then NDP MP Glenn Thibeault could run for the Ontario Liberals in last year's Sudbury byelection.

Sorbara is also accused of bribing Thibeault to defect from the New Democrats.

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