Judge rules City of Winnipeg can access documents seized in police headquarters investigation
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba's Chief Justice has said the City of Winnipeg should be given immediate access to files seized by the RCMP during its criminal investigation into the downtown Winnipeg police headquarters project.
The decision comes in response to the city's lawsuit, filed in January against more than two dozen defendants – including Caspian Construction and the city's former CAO Phil Sheegl – over alleged fraud and conspiracy.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
As CTV News previously reported, in December 2014, the RCMP seized four filing cabinets and 46 boxes of physical documents, as well as approximately six terabytes of data including 350,000 emails.
City lawyers previously argued the documents are needed to support its claims against the defendants.
In a written decision released Friday afternoon, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal said the city had satisfied him that the documents seized by the RCMP are relevant and that it would be 'unfair' to require the city to proceed without them.
"The city ought to be given immediate access to any financial, accounting or banking documentation seized by the RCMP from the defendants and they should be given permission to copy what it considers necessary," Joyal said.
Caspian's lawyers previously opposed the city's application for the files, arguing the files contain privileged solicitor-client communications, and other items that are not related to the police headquarters.
Joyal said if any of the defendants want to raise a claim about any documents considered 'privileged' that were seized by the RCMP, they will need to provide the court with a list of these documents to determine if a review is required.
Sheegl's counsel, Robert Tapper, told CTV News the ruling is "supportive" of their position.
"It pertains to issues of documents and invoices my client had nothing to do with. And no one is alleging he did,” Tapper said.
In a written statement to CTV News, Manitoba RCMP said it respects the decision and will work with the city on its request to access the files seized during the investigation into the police headquarters.
A spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said it was pleased with the decision.
"Once we have had the opportunity to receive and review the documents, we will determine our next steps," the spokesperson told CTV News in an email.
CTV News has reached out to the counsel for Caspian Construction for further comments.
The full decision can be read below.
-with files from CTV's Josh Crabb and Jon Hendricks