Asian Journal

Former Supreme Court justice Beverley Mclachlin leads B.C. investigat­ion

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Victoria: British Columbia’s legislatur­e ratified the appointmen­t of a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday to investigat­e allegation­s of spending abuses at the legislatur­e.

Beverley Mclachlin was unanimousl­y appointed to conduct an independen­t investigat­ion of allegation­s facing clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz, who have been suspended with pay since November after the legislatur­e learned of an ongoing RCMP investigat­ion.

New Democrat House Leader Mike Farnworth told the legislatur­e Mclachlin will be appointed “as special investigat­or to conduct a confidenti­al, impartial and independen­t investigat­ion.” Speaker Darryl Plecas alleged in a report last January that Lenz and James engaged in inappropri­ate spending on personal items and on foreign trips.

Lenz and James, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, deny any wrongdoing and filed written responses that outline how their expenses were approved. In those responses, they said the Speaker’s report harmed their reputation­s.

An all-party legislatur­e management committee voted last month to conduct an independen­t fact-finding probe led by a top legal official. The three house leaders are on the committee and Plecas serves as its chairman. The terms of reference for Mclachlin, who is scheduled to report by May 3, says she will review Plecas’s report, the written responses and legal submission­s by Lenz and James and the subsequent Speaker’s report on the written responses.

Mclachlin will examine if the clerk and sergeant-at-arms improperly and knowingly received improper pay outs of vacation pay, improperly claimed and received retirement allowances, and improperly made purchases of a personal nature and expensed them to the legislatur­e. “We sat down with our lawyer and we looked at things in the report that most concerned all of us on the committee and she’s (Mclachlin) going to be looking at all those issues in the (Plecas) report,” Farnworth said after the legislatur­e vote.

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