THE Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) of the Justice Ministry on Thursday announced that David Butcher has been appointed as a special prosecutor to provide legal advice to the RCMP in relation to an investigation being conducted into indirect political contributions and other potential contraventions of the BC Election Act.
On March 10, Elections BC announced that its investigation into indirect political contributions and other potential contraventions of the Election Act was being referred to the RCMP, in part, to “ensure that there is no perception that Elections BC’s ability to administer the general election in a fair, neutral and impartial manner is in any way compromised.”
On March 27, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) for the Criminal Justice Branch, Peter Juk, received a formal request from the RCMP that he consider the appointment of a special prosecutor to provide police with legal advice during the course of their investigation.
The ADAG concluded, based on the request and the information available about the alleged circumstances of the case that the appointment of a special prosecutor is in the public interest. The ADAG will consider appointing a special prosecutor where some aspect of an investigation, or prosecution file, carries a significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in prosecutorial decision making. A special prosecutor works independent from government, the Ministry of Justice and the CJB.
On March 29, the ADAG appointed Butcher as special prosecutor in the matter. Butcher is a senior counsel with the private bar in Vancouver. His mandate includes the following:
* Offer such legal advice to the investigative agency as may be necessary in the circumstances;
* Conduct an independent assessment of any Report to Crown Counsel (RCC) that may be submitted and make the charging decision he deems appropriate in the exercise of his independent discretion, in accordance with Criminal Justice Branch Policies;
* Provide a written report to the ADAG, with the results of his assessment of any RCC submitted and the reasons for any decisions; and,
* Conduct the prosecution and any subsequent appeal, if he determines in the exercise of his discretion that a prosecution is warranted.
The CJB said that when providing legal advice to investigators a special prosecutor does not control, supervise or direct the investigation. It is up to the investigators, once they have received any advice, to independently decide whether and how they should conduct the investigation, who should be investigated, and what evidence to gather.
Should the RCMP, in the independent exercise of its discretion, decide to submit a Report to Crown Counsel for charge assessment and possible prosecution, the CJB anticipates that a media statement will be issued at an appropriate time announcing the results of Butcher’s review.
As the matter is currently subject to an ongoing investigation, neither the CJB nor Butcher will comment further or release any additional information at this time.
NDP Leader John Horgan said: “Christy Clark had every opportunity to clean up the wild west of political cash. Instead of siding with British Columbians by ending the influence of big money, she chose yet again to protect her rich donors. Ultimately, it’s British Columbians who get to decide whether she made the right choice.”