B.C. legislature scandal: Speaker tried to appoint friend as interim sergeant-at-arms

B.C. legislature scandal: Speaker tried to appoint friend as interim sergeant-at-arms

House leaders told Darryl Plecas that was inappropriate, Mary Polak says

B.C. legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas suggested his friend and assistant Alan Mullen be appointed as an interim replacement the night before the abrupt suspension of its two top administrative officers, B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak said Thursday.

Polak told reporters that she and other party house leaders were called to a meeting with Plecas at 8 p.m. Monday to discuss how to proceed after the appointment of special prosecutors to supervise an investigation into unknown allegations against the top administrators of the legislature, Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James.

James and Lenz were placed on paid administrative leave the following morning and escorted from the legislature by local police. James said he had no indication of what allegations he was facing and was seeking legal advice.

When Plecas raised the suggestion that Mullen be appointed sergeant at arms on an interim basis, Polak said she and NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said ‘no’ and the meeting moved to other topics.

“During that meeting, Speaker Darryl Plecas stated his wish that Alan Mullen be appointed as acting sergeant at arms of the legislature after the departure of Gary Lenz from that position,” Polak said, reading from a sworn affidavit. “Our response was no, quite firmly.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson wouldn’t comment on whether Mullen should continue as a political advisor to Plecas, a previously unknown role, appointed without the knowledge of MLAs.

“I think all of us are concerned to find out that there had been a seven-month long investigation by someone with no legal training or policing experience, and that this was being effectively hidden from the accountable assembly, which is the legislature,” Wilkinson said.

RELATED: Investigation of legislature officers started in January

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said Polak’s affidavit is accurate, and he too rejected the suggestion that Mullen be appointed. The legislature is expected to consider temporary appointments for the position as soon as Thursday afternoon.

“I have confidence in the speaker and I know that he is going to be receiving additional resources,” Farnworth said. “I know this is a challenging time.”

The decision to place James and Lenz on administrative leave was made after legal advice from the Attorney General’s ministry, Farnworth said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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