Premier John Horgan answers questions about the recent announcement that B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver won’t be running as leader in the next provincial election and about his cabinet minister Jinny Sims’ resignation during a press conference in the Hall of Honour at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Horgan defends chief of staff who shredded initial report accusing former B.C. legislature clerk

Premier John Horgan says Geoff Meggs shredded the document after a copy of it had been given to the police

Premier John Horgan defended how his chief of staff handled allegations made against the former clerk of the B.C. legislature when he first learned of them in July 2018 as the Liberals questioned a decision to shred a document outlining the accusations.

Horgan says Geoff Meggs shredded the document after a copy of it had been given to the police.

A report released Tuesday on the conduct of former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz by a former Vancouver deputy police chief shows the premier’s office was approached about allegations made against Lenz and former clerk Craig James.

It says a meeting that included Speaker Darryl Plecas and his deputy, Raj Chouhan, was held July 30, 2018, when a report of between 40 and 50 pages “with a long list of allegations” was produced.

Horgan says the men wanted Meggs to make the premier aware of the allegations but were told they should take the accusations to the police.

Once Meggs knew the document was in the hands of the police, Horgan said he shredded it.

“It was no longer a document that was worth keeping,” Horgan told reporters Wednesday. “It wasn’t created by our office. It was not a public document that was part of the running the government of British Columbia. It was in the hands of the police. There was no need for us to keep it.”

Lenz and James have both retired since allegations about their spending first came to light in November 2018. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

READ MORE: Police Act report finds retired B.C. sgt-at-arms commits neglect of duty

In a letter to Horgan on Wednesday, B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says Meggs should have brought what he was told to the attention of the police and the house leaders of the three parties in the legislature.

“Mr. Meggs has admitted to shredding the evidence presented to him. This is indefensible, as it is his obligation to bring possible criminal activity to the attention of the police,” Wilkinson said.

“Mr. Meggs’ conduct is an inexcusable obstruction of the judicial process. We are calling for you as premier to put your friendship aside, do what is right for the people of British Columbia, and immediately terminate your chief of staff, Geoff Meggs.”

Meggs said Plecas brought “multiple copies of a draft report” containing allegations against the clerk to the meeting.

“I was in no position to verify the allegations,” he said in a statement, adding that he urged the Speaker to go to the police and was later advised by Chouhan that he had done so.

“The document I reviewed was not evidence, but a copy of a summary of internal investigations conducted by the Speaker’s office. There was no supporting documentation or back-up material.”

Horgan said Meggs acted appropriately in his handling of the allegations and the document.

“Geoff didn’t create the document,” he added. “He didn’t know its accuracy. He didn’t know its origins. It wasn’t his responsibility.”

Horgan said he wasn’t briefed on the document at the time and didn’t know about the allegations against Lenz and James until after a special prosecutor was appointed

He said the deputy Speaker informed him of allegations of wrongdoing against James in the summer of 2018, but he declined a request for a meeting with Plecas because the operations of the legislature are the responsibility of the legislative assembly management committee.

Horgan said he also didn’t want to be involved because he had voted against the appointment of James when he was an opposition member of the legislature.

“More to the point though, and I think this is critically important, it’s not secret to those of you who covered this place for a long time I voted against the appointment of Craig James for a myriad of reasons, some of them were public, some of them were private,” he said.

“I felt that if there were allegations of wrongdoing, if I was involved, there could be a perception of bias.”

Horgan said he asked Meggs to take the meeting instead and a document was left behind, which was later shredded.

“Geoff shredded the document,” he said. “It was his to shred.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New ‘hub’ model takes regional approach to doctor recruitment in West Kootenay

Kootenay-Boundary a provincial leader in effectively attracting doctors to work here

Missing Slocan City man found dead

Douglas Morrison went missing in mid-January

School District 51 turns its focus to students’ mental health

‘It’s a shift in our thinking, from what we expect schools to be like and what they are now’

IN PHOTOS: 2020 Wilgress Lake Fishing Derby

Fishermen dotted Wilgress Lake for the Boundary Métis Association’s annual event

Grand Forks marches against gender violence

The Grand Forks march was part of 1 Billion Rising, a global movement against gender violence

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

MLA Larson deals with abuse and threats

Oliver office has a buzz-in system, and panic buttons

Most Read