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Request for Special Prosecutor on missing emails referred to RCMP

A request for appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the disappearance and possible destruction of cabinet emails related to BC Rail has been referred to the RCMP by Robert Gillen, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General in the Criminal Justice Branch.

NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who yesterday sent Gillen letter asking him to consider appointing a Special Prosecutor, said today he has received a reply indicating the matter has been referred to Chief Superintendent Dick Bent of the RCMP.

In a letter to Krog dated July 16, 2009 - the same day the request from Krog was received - Gillen says allegations of possible obstruction of justice in the destruction of government emails have been sent to Bent.

"Consideration to the appointment of a Special Prosecutor would only take place if the police determine that an investigation should take place and request the assistance of a prosecutor for the purposes of seeking legal advice during the investigation or alternatively, the police at the end of the investigation forward a Report to Crown Counsel in which a charging decision is requested," Gillen wrote, with a copy to Bent.

Krog said he appreciates the letter.

"I'm pleased to have that quick a response from the Assistant Deputy Attorney General. I have a lot of respect for Robert Gillen," he said in an interview Friday afternoon.

"Once the RCMP start an investigation - if they proceed - they'll want to quickly turn to a Special Prosecutor," Krog said.

In British Columbia, Special Prosecutors are regularly assigned to investigate criminal matters where political figures or issues arise in order to preserve the independence of the case.

Krog said the events of the past week, when it was learned that back up tapes of emails from cabinet ministers regarding the $1 billion sale of BC Rail in 2003 allegedly may have been ordered destroyed in early May despite the ongoing criminal case, have been astonishing.

"This is a remarkable turn of events and the comparisons to Watergate are warranted," he said.

"It now behooves the government to tell us who gave the order to destroy the backup tapes, when and why," Krog said.

On Monday at 9 a.m., B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett will rule on a defence application to have the email backup tapes designated as "likely relevant", a decision that would then allow them to demand production of the tapes.

To date it is unclear whether EDS Advanced Solutions - the contractor who was sent the tapes for deletion - actually destroyed them or not.

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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