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Defence in Basi-Virk trial gets access to some emails

VANCOUVER - British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled Tuesday that defence lawyers for three former B.C. Liberal government aides facing corruption charges can gain access to any emails between Premier Gordon Campbell and three Pilothouse Public Affairs lobbyists.

Bennett also ruled that lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi can obtain emails related to Pilothouse for 14 other current or former BC Liberal MLAs, including former Deputy Premier Christy Clark.

But a defence application that Bennett remain as judge for the trial of the three aides was put off until July 20.

In an interview after the short hearing Michael Bolton, the lawyer representing David Basi, said the defence was pleased with the ruling.

"The judge ruled that the email records related to the divestiture of BC Rail and contact with lobbyists Erik Bornmann, Brian Kieran and Jamie Elmhirst be disclosed to the defence," he said.

"She ordered communications on Mr. Campbell's email account on Pilothouse be disclosed and those with any of the lobbyists," Bolton added.

"This result means the defence will get a large part of the emails it was seeking for 2002 to 2004," Bolton said. "It also means we may be in a position to bring an application for some of the records that were not disclosed today."

Bolton said that Clark had not objected to release of her records or had legal counsel at the hearing despite being served notice of the defence application.

He added that the court will hear an additional defence request for Campbell's executive branch records on July 16-17, from B.C. government lawyer George Copley.

The following week, there will be a hearing on a defence request that Justice Elizabeth Bennett continue as the trial judge despite her elevation to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino has asked that she be replaced.

The legal defence team will also continue their application for a non-compliance order over failure to disclose material previously ordered released by Bennett, and will continue to pursue access to the business records of Patrick Kinsella and the Progressive Group companies.

Still unknown is whether the Supreme Court of Canada will issue a ruling on the secret witness appeal by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino. The Court does not usually release decisions of this nature during the summer months.

Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in Vancouver 24 hours. E-mail him at weststar@telus.net or visit his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com.

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