Ex-PMO lawyer's emails not deleted: PCO to RCMP
Published Sunday, December 1, 2013 9:51PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 1, 2013 10:26PM EST
The Privy Council Office has informed the RCMP that it has “found” emails from former PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin that it had previously said were deleted.
In a letter to the RCMP’s assistant commissioner Gilles Michaud dated Dec. 1, the PCO said it has informed the Prime Minister’s Office that emails from Perrin -- who allegedly helped broker a deal between Nigel Wright and Sen. Mike Duffy -- were not deleted following Perrin’s departure from the PMO in March 2013.
The letter states the account was not deleted, as is standard practice, but in fact frozen due to unrelated litigation.
According to the PCO, the email account came to light in recent days, after the RCMP sought further confirmation from the PMO’s counsel that Perrin’s emails were not available from any other source.
“In response to this inquiry, on November 29, 2013 we found that Mr. Perrin’s emails had in fact been retained due to a litigation hold in an unrelated matter. On learning that Mr. Perrin’s emails were in fact available, we informed the PMO on November 30, 2013.”
Perrin is currently the subject of a complaint filed by a University of Ottawa law professor, who claims that Perrin and Duffy lawyer Janice Payne violated professional ethics for their alleged roles in a secret deal that saw Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, give Duffy a $90,000 cheque to cover the senator’s ineligible housing expenses.
The RCMP is investigating the transaction. In an affidavit filed last month, Cpl. Greg Horton alleges that Wright broke the law by giving Duffy the money.
According to the letter, the PMO asked the PCO to make available to police “the emails of certain individual requested by the RCMP,” including Perrin’s, in September 2013. It was at that time that the PCO “advised” the PMO that Perrin’s emails had been deleted from a server “and were no longer available.”
But Sunday’s letter explains that the PCO was wrong in making that claim. The PCO apologized for any inconvenience “it may have caused.”
“We regret that we previously failed, even if inadvertently, to accurately inform you and the PMO about the availability of Mr. Perrin’s emails.”
According to a sworn RCMP affidavit, an email trail suggests Perrin and Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton were involved in the Duffy-Wright deal.
None of the allegations in the affidavit have been tested or proven in court.