Categorized | Canadian Politics

Key witness at gas-plants case not impartial, defence says

Posted on 30 September 2017 by admin

 “His intimate involvement in key decisions in the case make it impossible for him,” lawyer Scott Hutchison told Judge Timothy Lipson in Ontario Court of Justice, where the defense is pushing to have retired OPP detective Robert Gangnon disqualified from giving his opinion on evidence.

A retired OPP officer who worked on the investigation into deleted emails is too far “inside the tent” to be used as an independent expert witness by prosecutors in the gas plants case, the defence lawyer for a former top Dalton McGuinty aide said Monday.

“His intimate involvement in key decisions in the case make it impossible for him,” lawyer Scott Hutchison told Judge Timothy Lipson in Ontario Court of Justice, where the defense is pushing to have retired OPP detective Robert Gangnon disqualified from giving his opinion on evidence.

The law is clear that expert witnesses must be “independent and impartial,” Hutchison added during day two of the criminal trial of his client, Laura Miller, a former deputy chief of staff to McGuinty as premier, and former chief of staff David Livingston.

They are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives in the McGuinty premier’s office before Kathleen Wynne became premier in February 2013.

Miller and Livingston have pleaded not guilty. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Gagnon testified Friday that he was involved in numerous meetings with investigators and the Crown after concerns were raised at Queen’s Park that emails and documents related to the Liberal government’s controversial decision to cancel gas-fired power plants before the 2011 provincial election had been deleted.

Hutchison noted that Gagnon was pulled out of retirement to handle forensic computer examinations for the OPP after hard drives were seized from the McGuinty premier’s office‎.

 “It’s telling that he was hand-picked for the job for the police and remains the expert of choice,” the lawyer added.

“That expertise is widely available outside the police…there’s no legitimate reason or need to use that witness.”

Gangnon’s own testimony last Friday that he was only paid for 15 hours a week because of payment caps under his police pension but actually worked longer hours “for free” shows he is loyal to the prosecution and should not be considered an independent expert witness, Hutchison added.

It was also Gagnon who suggested the additional charge of mischief in relation to data against Miller and Livingston, Hutchison said in his submission to the judge, who is expected to rule Wednesday on Gagnon’s suitability as an expert witness.

The Crown will make submissions later Monday on why Gagnon should not be excluded from giving his opinion on the witness stand.

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