B.C. legislature Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James. (Black Press files)

Ousted B.C. legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

Legislature officials Craig James and Gary Lenz – both ousted from the government two months ago – have issued a joint statement in response to a 76-page report released by B.C. Legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas.

The report detailed allegations that Lenz and James made exorbitant purchases with tax dollars, including “luxurious trips overseas,” a suit costing more than $1,100 and more.

RELATED: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

In the statement released late Monday, Lenz and James said they were “shocked” no one shared the allegations with them prior to the release of the report:

“We are shocked at what the Speaker and the Legislative Management Committee have done today.

Prior to the release of these allegations this afternoon, no one shared them with us, no one told us what we are being accused of and no one gave us any chance to respond.

As the whole world knows, the Speaker had us removed us from the Legislature under police escort last November. No reason was given to us for that public humiliation beyond the fact that we were under investigation. The Speaker has now compounded the harm to us and our families by preparing a report in secret, without any input from us, and recommended that it be released to the public to further blacken our reputations. To be clear, at no time over the last weeks or months did Mr. Plecas provide us with information about these allegations or give us any opportunity to respond. He must have deliberately chosen to prepare his report without giving us any chance to respond. We can only ask: ‘Why?’

We are only now able to read the allegations for the first time and we are confident that time will show that they are completely false and untrue.

To be publicly accused of these things after months of secret investigation without being given any chance to respond is contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment. It is contrary to how our public institutions should treat people. It is contrary to how the Speaker of the Legislature should act.

There was no need for this. Since the day that we were ejected from the Legislature, we have made it clear to all that we are willing, indeed keen, to clear our names. We made it clear that we would respond to all allegations. We have not been given the chance. No one can think this was the right way to proceed.

We are surprised that the Legislature Management Committee would have gone along with this. To allow the release of unsubstantiated and hearsay allegations is simply wrong. We don’t understand why the members of that committee would not have required that we be given an opportunity to comment before these harmful allegations were published.

We will work through the allegations and provide a detailed response in due course.”

James and Lenz were removed from legislature in November and placed on administrative leave with pay due to the RCMP investigation.

At the time, Plecas and his advisor Alan Mullen would not comment on the reason behind the oust but confirmed a special prosecutor had been assigned to the case and there was an active criminal investigation.

RELATED: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation


 

nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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