The lawyer for the clerk and sergeant-at-arms of the B.C. legislature says his two clients did nothing wrong.
Mark Andrews, lawyer for the two men, has sent a letter to the house leaders of the NDP, Liberals and Greens asking that clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz be allowed to return to their posts.
“Craig James and Gary Lenz deny having committed any wrongdoing,” reads the letter from lawyer Mark Andrews. “They are entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. As a matter of basic fairness, they deserved to be told what it is alleged that they have done and to be given an opportunity to respond to those allegations.”
In his letter, Andrews says James and Lenz have still not been informed what the allegations against them are or why they were put on administrative leave.
Lenz and James were put on leave Tuesday morning after a motion was put forward in the legislature. The RCMP are conducting a criminal investigation and two special prosecutors have been appointed to deal with the case.
“The mere fact that there is an investigation is not a sufficient basis to suspend them from their posts,” reads the letter. “Unless there is something specific in the facts allegedly brought to light in this case that makes it impossible for Mr. James and Mr. Lenz to carry out their duties, the only way that the injustice now unfolding from the passage of the motion can be mitigated pending the outcome of the investigation, and public confidence restored, is for the motion to be rescinded.”
If the motion was rescinded, the pair could return to their jobs. They have asked for the house leaders to respond by the end of the day on Friday.
LISTEN: Lawyers for Gary Lenz and Craig James have written to the house leaders of the legislature demanding to have their jobs back. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson shared the letter on the Simi Sara show. Guest: Andrew Wilkinson Leader of the BC Liberal Party
On Wednesday, the speaker’s special adviser Alan Mullen told the media he has been working on this investigation since January and turned over information to the RCMP in August.
In his letter, Andrews argues that the speaker has “no constitutional authority” to carry out an investigation into James and Lenz.
“Neither the Speaker, nor his ‘Special Advisor’ should have been behind such a process as has been followed in this case,” the letter states. “In circumstances where the Sergeant-at-Arms has a conflict of interest, the appropriate procedure would have been for the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms to conduct the investigation.”
Andrews says his clients are not asking for the investigation to be stopped and they will cooperate with the investigation.
B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak sent a letter to speaker Darryl Plecas on Friday afternoon asking for an emergency meeting of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee as soon as possible. The committee is responsible for the way in which the legislature operates.