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Special Prosecutor on Heed case steps down, citing conflict

The special prosecutor who yesterday exonerated Solicitor General Kash Heed today withdrew from the case revealing that his law firm had donated to Heed's campaign during the election.

“I am a partner in the law firm of Harper Grey LLP,” Terrence Robertson wrote in a letter to Robert Gillen with the Attorney General ministry today. “Sometime in May of 2009, shortly before the Provincial Election, my law firm made a political contribution of $1,000.00 to the B.C. Liberal Party, Kash Heed election campaign.

“I was aware of the contribution to the Heed campaign by my law firm, but did not believe that it was a conflict of interest that would preclude me from acting as Special Prosecutor.”

He continued, “Several weeks before charge approval, I was asked by the RCMP whether I felt there was a conflict of interest due to my firm making a campaign contribution. I provided my opinion that I did not feel there was a conflict.

“Given that charges were not approved against Kash Heed and upon further reflection, I have concluded that my continuing as Special Prosecutor on this matter may well provoke comment from the public and the media as to whether I am sufficiently independent to act as Special Prosecutor in this matter.”

He said he believed his recommendations were made objectively, but that he is withdrawing from the case.

Gillen accepted Robertson's decision, and will appoint a new special prosecutor.

Yesterday, on Robertson's advice, Criminal and Election Act charges were laid against Heed's campaign manager Barinder Sall. Also charged were the Heed campaign financial agent Satpal Johl and the owner of the North American Mailing company, Dinesh Khanna. The charges relate to an illegal brochure and alleged interference with the investigations into who was responsible.

Today Premier Gordon Campbell reappointed Heed as solicitor general. Campbell's announcement cited Robertson's report that "fully exonerated Heed."

Harper Grey and Harper Grey Easton have given $24,170 to the B.C. Liberal Party and its candidates since 2005, according to Elections B.C.'s donations database.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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