Gas plants accused decline to call evidence closing arguments Nov 22

first_imgTORONTO – Two former senior political aides charged with illegally destroying documents related to the Ontario government’s decision to cancel two gas plants will call no witnesses in their defence, their lawyers said Thursday.Instead, the lawyers for David Livingston and Laura Miller told Ontario court Judge Timothy Lipson that they had instead opted to move straight to making closing arguments.Their decision comes after Lipson last week rejected the lawyers’ request for a directed verdict — an acquittal without hearing defence evidence — on the basis the prosecution had failed to make out its case.In his written ruling, Lipson said he had heard some evidence put forward by the Crown on which a guilty verdict could ultimately rest, although he stressed he was not at that point weighing the validity of the evidence or making any suggestion as to what his verdict will ultimately be.Livingston and Miller, top aides to former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, have pleaded not guilty to illegal use of a computer and attempted mischief to data. The prosecution had previously asked for an acquittal on a third charge — breach of trust.The charges relate to the deletion of computer records apparently about the government’s decision to cancel two gas plants ahead of the 2011 provincial election at a cost of more than $1 billion to taxpayers.After saying they would “formally elect to call no evidence,” lawyers Brian Gover, who represents Livingston, and Scott Hutchison, who speaks for Miller, said they would use the one-day hearing — scheduled for Nov. 22 — to develop the arguments they made on their directed-verdict application.The lawyers estimated they would need about three hours to make their final pitch for a not guilty finding, while the prosecution, represented by federal lawyers Tom Lemon and Sarah Egan, said they would need about two hours for their final push for convictions.Lipson said he would have no problem giving them more time if needed.Police charged Livingston, McGuinty’s chief of staff, and his deputy Laura Miller in December 2015 amid accusations they had deliberately destroyed emails and other records to spare further embarrassment over the Liberals’ cancellation of the gas plants.Evidence before Lipson was that the duo, over strenuous objections from senior bureaucrats, hired Miller’s partner Peter Faist, an outside computer expert with no security clearance, to wipe clean 20 hard drives in the premier’s office in 2013 as they were about to leave their roles, but the defence pointed out it is unknown exactly what the deleted files comprised.Witnesses also testified about the political pressures related to the gas plants, and that a legislature committee and others had formally requested documents related to the gas plants decision — but the accused said they had none.Neither accused was present for Thursday’s brief hearing.last_img

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