The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced today that they have approved charges against former legislature clerk Craig Harley James.
James is facing charges of breach of trust and fraud in excess of $5,000 in relation to a spending scandal first alleged by Speaker Darryl Plecas in January 2019.
Plecas wrote in a report that James and then sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz had been spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on personal trips and other expenses, including the purchase of a wood splitter for James’ home.
The legislature voted on March 7, 2019 to appoint former Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin to investigate Plecas’ allegations.
Her report on May 3, 2019, concluded that James had engaged in improper personal purchases including expense claims for two suits and three pieces of luggage.
McLachlin also found that James had directed the creation of three benefits which were to his personal advantage outside of protocols, including the 2012 Retirement Benefit, and the 2018 Resignation Benefit.
James strenuously denied the charges, saying in May 2019 that he would be retiring from his position.
“I have had enough,” James stated. “I have been publicly ridiculed and vilified. My family has been deeply hurt and continues to suffer humiliation.”
In November 2020, Plecas wrote a report entitled “Unfinished Business” in which he stated that James entered into a non-financial settlement that did not require him to pay back any of the controversial expenses.
With the announcement of formal charges against James, the matter will be settled in court.
The BCPS says that James was formally indicted on December 17 and already made his first court appearance on Friday.
He is next scheduled to appear in court on January 27, 2021.
If convicted, James could face a prison term of up to 14 years.