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Constable granted participation in Missing Women Inquiry

The Missing Women Inquiry Commission has granted Constable Doug Fell standing as a full participant in the coming inquiry hearings, while community groups continue to drop out due to lack of legal funding.

Fell worked with the missing women investigation in 1999. His legal representative requested permission to participate in the inquiry for the fairness of the hearing, as he was subject to “adverse comments” in the Lepard Report.

His request for standing was granted by Commissioner Wally Oppal, giving Fell full participatory rights during evidentiary hearings, which include cross-examining witnesses and making submissions.

The inclusion of Fell comes days after Pivot Legal Society dropped out of the inquiry, which cited the province’s decision to allot funding for only two lawyers to represent the DTES community and aboriginal groups as the reason for dropping out. The participation of these groups, Pivot lawyers say, is key to the inquiry’s success.

Concerns have been raised that without more funding for legal representation, the voices of those most affected will be lost. “As a result, we have come to doubt the ability of the commission to conduct a fair and impartial inquiry,” said an entry posted on Pivot’s blog yesterday.

The Tyee tried calling the commission, but calls were not returned by posting time.

Community forums open to the public and the media were held in northern B.C. this month by the inquiry. The official hearings will begin October 11.

Grace Scott is completing her practicum at The Tyee.

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