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BC Politics

Former Clerk Craig James Charged in BC Legislature Spending Scandal

Special prosecutors recommended charges of breach of trust and fraud against former top manager of legislature operations.

Andrew MacLeod 18 Dec 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at .

Criminal charges have been laid against Craig James, the former clerk of the British Columbia legislature who retired last year amid accusations of misconduct.

The BC Prosecution Service announced today that James has been charged with four counts of breach of trust by a public officer and two counts of fraud in excess of $5,000.

Approved by special prosecutors David Butcher and Brock Martland, the charges were filed in the BC Supreme Court Thursday.

As clerk, James was the top staff person in the $80-million-a-year legislature.

MLAs in the legislature voted to suspend him and another senior official in November 2018 after learning the RCMP was investigating.

A pair of 2019 reports from then Speaker Darryl Plecas detailed wide-ranging concerns.

In May 2019, a review by retired Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin found James had received improper benefits, made improper purchases of a personal nature and had removed and used legislative assembly property.

James had claimed repayment from the legislature that he wasn’t entitled to for two suits, three luggage purchases and private insurance premiums, she found.

Also, she found that “Mr. James engaged in misconduct by removing alcohol from the legislative precinct without accounting for it.”

And she found that keeping the wood splitter and trailer that the legislature had purchased at his home was inappropriate.

“Mr. James engaged in misconduct by keeping the wood splitter and trailer under his personal control for almost a year and using both for personal purposes during that time, in the face of clear consensus that there was no reason for the equipment not to be on Legislative Assembly property.”

McLachlin also found there was no legal basis for James to receive a $258,000 retirement benefit payment in 2012 and that his role in it being issued constituted misconduct.

James made a first appearance today at the Victoria Courthouse. The next appearance is scheduled for Jan. 27.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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