The clerk of the B.C. legislature, Craig James, and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz are under criminal investigation and have been put on administrative leave with pay and benefits.
“There is an active and ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the RCMP and that a special prosecutor has been assigned,” Alan Mullen, special adviser to the Speaker, said. “It would be inappropriate at this time to say any more because we don’t want to compromise any investigation the RCMP have ongoing.”
WATCH: Global News caught up with a stunned James as he was escorted from the building
RCMP are in charge of the investigation. Lenz and James were escorted from the legislature with support of the Victoria Police Department. The police were invited into the legislature by the speaker’s office.
“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,” RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said.
WATCH: A shocking turn of events at the B.C. Legislature Tuesday, after the sergeant-at-arms and clerk of the house were put on administrative leave
“A thorough investigation is underway and will take the time necessary.”
David Butcher and Brock Martland have been appointed as special prosecutors to provide legal assistance and advice to the RCMP in relation to the ongoing investigation. According to the Criminal Justice Branch, there was a formal request from the RCMP made on September 28 that a special prosecutor provide police with legal advice during the course of their investigation.
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The province’s assistant deputy attorney general Peter Juk concluded that given the potential size and scope of the investigation two special prosecutors were needed. The prosecutors have been working on this case since October 1, 2018 and news of the investigation was only made public on Tuesday.
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Government House Leader Mike Farnworth made the shocking announcement on Tuesday morning with very few details.
Lenz and James were escorted from the building by the legislature’s police force.
“During the period of administrative leave and as a consequence of an outstanding investigation, Mr. James and Mr. Lenz must not access legislative assembly networking equipment, systems or services, must not be present in any building that is defined by the legislative precinct,” Farnworth said.
The move is unprecedented in modern B.C. legislative history.
WATCH: 2 key B.C. legislature officials on leave amid criminal investigation
Speaking to reporters following the government announcement, James said he wasn’t given any notice and has no idea what this has to do with. James says he was in the speakers office when the announcement was made and was notified that he was put on leave.
“I think we have a right to know what it is,” James said.
The clerk of the house is the chief permanent officer of the legislative assembly who reports to the Speaker. In addition to procedural responsibilities, the clerk is also responsible for the overall direction and administration of the legislative assembly.
James has been working at the legislature for more than 30 years.
The sergeant-at-arms is a permanent officer of the house, responsible for the security of the parliament buildings and legislative grounds to ensure the house, its committees, and members are able to conduct their business without disturbance or interruption.
James struggled to come up with words when asked how he was feeling.
“Shock more than anything else,” he said. “There has to be cause under the Constitution Act.”
WATCH: Premier Horgan reacts to criminal investigation at B.C. legislature
Premier John Horgan says he was briefed on Monday about the special prosecutors being in place. He says it was ‘shocking’ and is ‘very concerned that whatever investigation is under way is completed as quickly as possible for the individuals involved’.
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“I don’t know what the allegations are, I don’t know what the scope of any allegations are. I know both Gary and Craig. I have worked with them for many years and I hold them to high esteem. But I am unaware of what led to the events of today,” Horgan said.
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