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UPDATE: Two key officials at B.C. legislature on leave amid criminal probe

An exterior view of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria on August 26, 2011.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
November 20, 2018 - 2:58 PM

VICTORIA - Two key officials at British Columbia's legislature have been placed on indefinite leave over what an official says is a criminal investigation, but details surrounding an RCMP probe of the senior staff at the legislature remained a mystery Tuesday.

Two special prosecutors were appointed to oversee the RCMP investigation in the case on Oct. 1, the B.C. Prosecution Service said in a news release.

NDP House Leader Mike Farnworth introduced a motion at the end of question period on Tuesday that said both the clerk of the house, Craig James, and its sergeant-at-arms, Gary Lenz, were being placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Alan Mullen, a special adviser to the Speaker of the legislature, said there is an active investigation by the RCMP and both men are on paid leave. He wouldn't release any details about the investigation.

"It is an ongoing and active criminal investigation," he told reporters. "It would be inappropriate at this time to say any more because we do not want to jeopardize any investigation the RCMP have ongoing. I'm not prepared to get into details."

The prosecution service said the special prosecutors have been appointed to provide legal assistance and advice to the RCMP "in relation to an investigation being conducted into the activities of senior staff at the British Columbia legislature."

Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said the RCMP asked for the appointment because of "the nature and the roles of the individuals involved."

"The RCMP has an active investigation underway, with respect to allegations pertaining to their administrative duties, and we are not in a position to provide any other details or specifics," Shoihet said in a statement. "A thorough investigation is underway and will take the time necessary."

James and Lenz walked out of the legislature separately and left the parking lot together in a vehicle driven by Lenz. James told reporters he didn't know why he was placed on leave.

"I have no idea but I'm sure I'll find out in due course," he added.

The sergeant-at-arms is responsible for maintaining order in the legislative chamber and other areas used for the business of the house. The clerk of the house gives non-partisan advice to the Speaker, can be consulted on procedural matters and maintains a record of all the legislature's proceedings.

Assistant deputy attorney general Peter Juk appointed lawyers David Butcher and Brock Martland as special prosecutors about seven weeks ago. Both lawyers work in private practice in Vancouver.

"Given the potential size and scope of the investigation, the (assistant deputy attorney general) determined that two special prosecutors would be appointed," the prosecution service said in a news release.

Special prosecutors are appointed when an investigation or prosecution file carries "a significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in prosecutorial decision making" and they work independently from the government, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the prosecution service, it said.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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