Van Dongen’s BC Rail Questions, part 2
Yesterday, former Attorney General Geoff Plant, took on John van Dongen’s problem with the BC Liberal’s decision to cover the defence costs in the BC Rail trial – to the tune of $6,000,000.
The special payout overturned government policy. Indemnification against legal costs is not extended to employees found to be guilty. That all changed with the BC Rail trial.
According to van Dongen, no Premier has answered the many questions surrounding the payout.
Polls taken at the time showed the vast majority of British Columbian voters had major – vote altering – concerns with the government’s decision, believing the payment was more of a cover-up than a rational, legal decision.
With van Dongen’s defection putting the perceived cover-up back on the table, Plant took to the blogosphere to attack van Dongen and offer up an explanation for the decision.
His explanation is lame. Make that beyond lame.
Here’s Plant’s argument:
“To summarize, guilty pleas had been proposed. Discussions ensued about the fees. The special prosecutor was not involved in those discussions.
“Government decided to release the three defendants from any claim for repayment of their legal fees. The defendants pleaded guilty. What is clear is that there was no legally binding deal. There couldn’t be. The waiver of recovery of fees was not and could not be an inducement to plead guilty.”
Plant goes on to argue that the decision to overturn the indemnity policy was based on a rational comparison of the cost of continuing the trial against the $6,000,000 cost of the payout. Plant argues that the most they could have gotten out of either Basi or Virk were pennies on the dollar.
But here’s the problem with Plant’s analysis. The scenario he paints could not have occurred.
Plant claims that the defence first made a deal with the prosecutor for a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence of house arrest. Then the defence went to the government to discuss indemnity.
Plant’s logic fail occurs right there. He says government weighed the cost of a continued trial against the cost of the indemnity deciding the indemnity cost was less.
But if there was already a deal to plead guilty -as Plant and the Deputy AG the trial was over. Therefore there was no cost to weigh the indemnity cost against.
To put it another way, with the guilty plea in the bag as Plant claims, there would be no reason to waive the indemnity.
The government’s and Plant’s rationale doesn’t fit with the way they say the deal was done. Either that or they gave away $6 million for nothing.
Neither makes sense.
Here’s what I’ve been told really happened: The defence made it clear to the government that a deal would depend upon both a reduced sentence and a continuing indemnity. If both weren’t in place, no deal.
And what convinced the government that it was in their interests to go for that deal – which they had rejected several times before? We’ll look at that tomorrow.