B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson zeroes in on premier's chief of staff in wake of LePard report

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      A blockbuster report by former Transit Police chief Doug LePard has continued creating shock waves at the B.C. legislature.

      Today in question period, B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson peppered the premier with questions about his chief of staff, Geoff Meggs.

      Wilkinson pointed out in his first parry that LePard's report disclosed that Meggs had received a 40- to 50-page report on July 30, 2018. It listed allegations against former legislature clerk Craig James and former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz.

      LePard's report arose out of a Police Act investigation of Lenz. This followed a complaint by Alan Mullen, chief of staff to Speaker Darryl Plecas.

      "Mr. Meggs recalled on his interview that every page had surprising material and that the liquor incident was not the most shocking part. Criminal allegations were present in the report," Wilkinson said. "What did Mr. Meggs do with the report? As former chief constable LePard reports, a credible source, witness 10, Mr. Meggs, shredded the report—four months before two individuals were marched out of this building and are now under criminal investigation.

      "The premier has consistently stated that his office and his staff had no involvement in the process that led to that rather dramatic event that went to the heart of the credibility of the operations of this building and the hundreds of people who work in it who try to maintain the standards of our democracy," Wilkinson continued. "Turns out that wasn't true. Here we have a clear written report citing the volunteered evidence of Mr. Meggs, saying that four months before these criminal allegations were made known, he was fully aware of it. What did he do with it? He shredded it, destroyed the evidence of his knowledge of this process."

      Then he asked Premier John Horgan if he was prepared to say what Meggs did was wrong.

      Horgan replied that LePard had found Meggs to be a credible witness. Horgan also insisted that LePard never suggested there was anything wrong with Meggs shredding a copy of a document that had already been passed along to law-enforcement officials.

      "Mr. Meggs participated in a meeting with the Speaker and his assistants," Horgan declared. "He was handed a document of unknown origin that had a series of allegations. He immediately said to the Speaker and his assistant that this material should be passed to the police immediately."

      The premier defended his chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, saying the shredded document was a copy of an original that was forwarded to the police.

      Moreover, Horgan said that the document was not created in the premier's office and it was not a "government" document.

      "There were no requirements to keep it because it had been passed onto the police," he added.

      Wilkinson maintained that the premier's office had a "clear obligation" to report this to the police. "And then we have a four-month charade where the premier's office pretends they didn't know about this," the B.C. Liberal leader said.

      Horgan responded that he rejected Wilkinson's premise.

      Horgan pointed out that the speaker at the time of the alleged liquor theft from the legislature was B.C. Liberal MLA Linda Reid.

      "[Meggs] advised the person who created the document to take it to the police, which Mr. LePard said was the appropriate thing to do," Horgan noted. "He did not have the same charitable response to the member for Richmond-East, who refused to participate in the investigation."

      Next, Wilkinson asked if Horgan would fire Meggs.

      Horgan sidestepped that question, reminding Wilkinson that the B.C. Liberals wanted to appoint James as the clerk even without the unanimous consent of the legislature.

      "And when, at Legislative Assembly Management Committee meetings where we raised issues of concern about the flagrant abuses that were possible under the rules that the B.C. Liberals had, they said: 'Everything's fine,' " Horgan said.

      According to LePard's report, Mullen and Deputy Speaker Raj Chouhan met with Meggs about "alleged improprieties" involving James and Lenz. This occurred on July 30, 2018.

      James and Lenz were escorted out of the legislature precinct on November 20, 2018.

      LePard's conclusions about Lenz were damning concerning his statements to the former chief justice.

      "I have determined that there is clear and cogent evidence that satisfies the evidentiary standard of a balance of probabilities that SAA [sergeant-at-arms] Lenz knew that Mr. James was not returning the liquor to the Liquor Distribution Branch, as he later said he had assumed had occurred in his oral evidence to Justice [Beverley] McLachlin on March 22, 2019, in his written Final Submission, and in his statements to me," LePard concluded.

      The former clerk, Craig James (above), allegedly sent a large shipment of liquor to the home of a former speaker—and Gary Lenz told a former chief justice that he thought James returned it to the Liquor Distribution Branch.

      LePard's evidence rebutting Lenz's version included:

      * Lenz advised Ryan-Lloyd that James had told Lenz that the liquor was sent to former speaker Bill Barisoff's residence;

      * At least three witnesses "were very concerned about the incident in 2013", and Lenz did not tell any of them at the time that the liquor was returned for a refund;

      * A fourth witness corroborated Ryan-Lloyd's recollections.

      "If SAA Lenz assumed Mr. James had returned the liquor for follow-up, there were simple steps he could have taken to verify this," LePard wrote. "I concluded he did not because he knew the liquor was not returned for refund, as he discussed with Witness 5 and [acting legislature clerk Kate] Ryan-Lloyd. In my view, the evidence is clear that SAA Lenz was not telling the truth when he said orally and in writing to Justice McLachlin that he assumed the liquor was being returned for refund and 'is not aware of any theft of alcohol.' "

      As a result, LePard concluded that Lenz "did not uphold his Oath as a Special Provincial Constable".

      LePard also wrote that the evidence "appears to substantiate that SAA Lenz committed Neglect of Duty for the failure in his sworn duty as an SPC to adequately investigate the misappropriation of liquor by Mr. James".

      Lenz retired last week after being shown LePard's report.

      Lenz has since issued a statement disputing LePard's findings and insisting that he always told the truth.

      James retired in May when the report was released by McLachlin. She found that that James engaged in misconduct in connection with four allegations but cleared Lenz.

       

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