Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Missing e mails add to the mystery of BC rail story

What is it about British Columbia and e mails that seem to cause so much trouble?
Last week we heard of e mail correspondences from the inquiry of the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski suddenly becoming available (just as the inquiry was to end), this time its potentially key correspondences in the Basi Virk trial going missing, apparently technology is not anyone's friend in the world of justice in BC.

Thousands of e mail correspondences relating the sale of BC Rail have disappeared, a circumstance that is adding to the ongoing mystery of the controversial BC rail trial, perhaps one of the highest profile cases in recent BC history.

Affidavits were filed by a government lawyer on Monday, indicating that the e-mails are not recoverable 13 months after appearing on the system, a rather curious timeline considering the nature of the case and its still very visible presence in the courts.

One would think that any correspondence involving the principles and government officials in the case would be quarantined if nothing else until the case works its way through the courts, but as lawyers for David Basi and Robert Virk have discovered that was not the case.

Instead, the correspondences have apparently disappeared into the electron universe, digital bytes floating around, out of mind and out of reach it seems, certainly not to be introduced into a British Columbia courtroom.

While its not unusual for the e mails to eventually be deleted from the record, normally there is a window of six to seven years before that takes place. This does not seem to be the protocol followed in the Basi Virk collections, and even then, common sense would dictate that anything to do with this case should be held until the conclusion of the trial.

The lawyers for the two principals of the corruption case were hoping to tie together those correspondences with senior government officials to their defense that their clients were just doing as they were told, a claim that will be significantly harder without any form of content to fall back on.

But for the use of a zip drive or two, justice it seems will have to find other paths to seek out the truth.

Vancouver Province-- Basi-Virk defence queries missing B.C. Rail e-mails
Vancouver Province-- Complete coverage of the Basi Virk trial
Vancouver Sun-- Thousands of government e-mails lost or can't be retrieved, Basi-Virk trial hears
Globe and Mail-- Missing files leave lawyers for Basi, Virk in disbelief

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