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B.C. legislature clerk called as witness in Craig James spending scandal trial

Trial of former B.C. Legislature clerk Craig James continues in Vancouver
B.C. legislature Clerk Craig James (left) retired after accusations by Speaker Darryl Plecas. (The Canadian Press)

The trial of former B.C. Legislature clerk Craig James entered its third day at the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver Wednesday (Jan. 26).

Current B.C. Legislature clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd took the witness stand and faced questions about the role of the legislative clerk within the legislative assembly. Ryan-Lloyd explained that the role of the clerk has changed over the years and is now subject to more oversight after changes were made in 2017.

Special prosecutor for the crown, David Butcher asked if policies regarding the conduct of the legislature clerk were vastly different from when James held the post.

Ryan-Lloyd said policies were brought in to make it explicitly clear that the clerk of the legislature should not do anything to bring the institution into disrepute and must not be seen to be benefitting or enriching themselves by virtue of their post.

“The general policy is not inconsistent with the original policy in terms of the same values,” Ryan-Lloyd said.

Also at issue was the payment of a long-time service benefit to James valued at $257,988.38. Ryan-Lloyd was also given a $118,915.84 in 2012 at the same time as James, but she voluntarily returned the payment

Ryan-Lloyd served under James in a variety of roles before James was suspended in 2018 over the allegations of fraud and breach of trust — except in 2010 until Sept. 2011 when James served as chief electoral officer for the province.

Ryan-Lloyd took over as acting clerk in 2018 after James’ departure and was formally appointed to the role of Legislature clerk in March 2020.

James has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of breach of trust by a public officer.

Special prosecutor David Butcher spent much of the morning tabling exhibits of items purchased by James.

Some of the items include two identical sealed packages containing stamps and commemorative coins of the royal wedding of then-Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a folder containing two strips of postage stamps of Windsor Castle, two packs of ‘Monarchy’ card games, as well as multiple unused House of Commons notebooks, pocket diaries and weekly planners.

The court previously heard allegations related to a $258,000 retirement allowance and the purchase of a wood splitter and trailer for the B.C. Legislature. On Tuesday, Butcher presented a detailed list of expenses filed by James on trips to England, Oregon and Vancouver for items like cufflinks, luggage, shoes and whisky.

James’ defence lawyers have yet to present their arguments to the court.

READ MORE: Cufflinks, shoes purchased abroad at centre of B.C. legislature clerk fraud trial: Crown

READ MORE: B.C. legislature clerk in spending scandal retires after wrongdoing found


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