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Heed case shows Dobell file should be re-opened: BC Conservatives

Other cases where Terrence Robertson acted as special prosecutor need to be re-opened, starting with the one involving Ken Dobell, the former deputy minister to Premier Gordon Campbell, says a spokesperson for the B.C. Conservative Party.

“Nobody seems to be making the Dobell connection,” said Dean Skoreyko, who ran as a Conservative in Vernon-Monashee in last year's election. “It's an identical situation, if not even worse.”

Robertson this week announced he was declining to approve charges against former solicitor general Kash Heed, but charging three people including Heed's campaign manager and financial agent with criminal and Election Act violations. A day later he withdrew from the case revealing that his law firm Harper Grey LLP had donated $1,000 to Heed's campaign.

“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," Robertson wrote in his May 4 resignation letter. A new special prosecutor will be appointed to the case.

But the Heed case is not the first time Robertson as special prosecutor has helped clear a prominent Liberal. In 2008 he declined to press an influence peddling charge against Dobell, though the former senior adviser to the premier eventually pleaded guilty to breaking the Lobbyist Registration Act.

As the Vancouver Sun put it at the time, “Special prosecutor Terrence Robertson decided against filing a charge of influence-peddling -- a Criminal Code offence -- against Dobell, even though he believes that he could have been convicted on the more serious charge.”

According to a summary from the New Democratic Party, who hammered on the issue during question period in the Legislature yesterday, Elections B.C.'s records show Harper Grey and Harper Grey Easton, as the firm was formally called, have given $57,231.50 to the B.C. Liberal Party and its candidates since 1996.

The pre-2008 donations should have been considered when Robertson, a Harper Grey partner, was assigned to the Dobell file, said Skoreyko. “Why wasn't that conflict investigated then? Did alarm bells not go off?”

A spokesperson for the criminal justice branch of the Attorney General's ministry was not immediately available.

"I hadn't heard about it," said Dobell. "They're going to do what they're going to do. I have no comment."

Dobell is now registered as a lobbyist on behalf of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, Belkorp Environmental Services, Seaspan Coast Intermodal, Vancouver International Airport Authority and the SFU Community Corporation.

Robertson was also the special prosecutor who approved charges in the Bountiful polygamy case, only to have them thrown out of court when the judge found the provincial government under then Attorney General Wally Oppal had first taken the issue to two other special prosecutors, neither of whom had been willing to approve the charges.

Robertson personally gave $1,000 to the Liberal Party in June, 2009, a month after last year's election. He has not returned the Tyee's calls this week.

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

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