Lawyers for suspended the B.C. legislature administrators are calling for them to be reinstated, but NDP government house leader Mike Farnworth says it stays in place.
“The RCMP are conducting an active investigation with the assistance of two special prosecutors appointed by the independent BC Prosecution Service,” Farnworth said in a statement Friday afternoon. “This is a serious matter and the appropriate course of action for all is to refrain from speculation and allow the police to do their job.”
A lawyer for the two executives wrote to Farnworth and the other party house leaders saying their reputations “are in the process of being destroyed” by the sudden suspensions. Farnworth said the suspensions were unanimously approved by MLAs.
Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz deny any wrongdoing and the motion of the B.C. legislature to place them on administrative leave was “improper” due to lack of information given to MLAs, lawyer Mark Andrews wrote in a letter to party house leaders Friday.
Andrews noted that David Butcher, one of two special prosecutors appointed in the case, has stated that neither he nor the RCMP called for their suspension, which was carried out while the legislature was in session Tuesday morning.
“They are entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty,” Andrews wrote. “They are the most senior and long-serving and loyal servants of the legislative assembly whose reputations are in the process of being destroyed by these events.”
He added that Speaker Darryl Plecas “has no constitutional authority to carry out an investigation” and “no authority to hire a ‘special advisor’ to do so.”
NDP house leader Mike Farnworth, B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak and B.C. Greens house leader Sonia Fursteneau were told of the appointment of special prosecutors in a meeting with Plecas Monday evening. All MLAs voted in favour of the suspensions Tuesday, immediately after question period.
Farnworth said Thursday the advice from lawyers in the Attorney General’s ministry was that placing the two on administrative leave with pay was the correct step. But the timing and public nature of their suspension has been widely questioned, after they were trailed by TV cameras out the door after having their keys removed.
The B.C. legislature sits two more days next week before adjourning until February.