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Couple cleared of B.C. bomb plot denied access to police information

Crown says giving couple entrapped by police three officers' addresses for lawsuit would violate publication bans.
John Nuttall and Amanda Korody are suing the federal and provincial governments and police.

A couple charged and cleared of terrorism charges connected to an alleged B.C. legislature bombing attempt have been denied names and addresses for police officers for a lawsuit they have filed.

In February 2013, John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody became the subjects of an undercover police operation code-named Project Souvenir. It led to four terrorism-related charges.

They were later found by a judge to have been entrapped by police in a "travesty of justice."

They had planted what they believed were pressure cook bombs on the grounds of the legislature buildings in Victoria.

The pair elected trial by B.C. Supreme Court jury and were convicted on two counts. However, the couple was cleared in 2016 of the convictions after B.C.’s Court of Appeal ruled the RCMP had entrapped them.

The court said police manipulated the two and used deceit and veiled threats to engineer the bomb plot.

“The misconduct of police in this case far outweighed their violations of the concepts of fairness and justice,” said the ruling, written by Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who also called on Parliament to revisit incomprehensible terrorism laws.

In December 2018, a Crown appeal of that stay was dismissed.

Then, in March 2021, Nuttall and Korody started a lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada, the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, seven people and three unnamed police officers.

They want the information to serve interrogatories — written questions to clarify matters of fact and help to determine in advance what facts will be presented at a trial.

The last three are undercover officers from the case who testified at trial. Their names are not known to the couple’s lawyers and are protected by trial record sealing orders. That sealing order remains in place indefinitely.

The government defendants oppose the order and also say revealing the names would violate publication bans.

The government defendants argue Nuttall, Korody and their lawyers know or can obtain the names of the officers through the counsel who acted for them in the criminal proceedings or the court files.

Court wrangling revolves around who represents the officers, B.C. Supreme Court Master John Bilawich said in his April 17 decision.

On Aug. 31, 2022, the federal Department of Justice, representing both Crown defendants, asked Nuttall and Korody to delay efforts to personally serve the individual defendants so it could determine whether it would also be acting for some or all of them as well.

On Jan. 6, the department informed the couple’s lawyers it would not be representing the individual defendants.

And, between January 2023 and March 2023, Nuttall and Korody were informed four of the individual defendants had retained lawyers.

“Two counsel accepted service on their client’s behalf,” Bilawich said. “Two other individual defendants were served personally. Efforts to serve the remaining two are pending.”

Nuttall and Korody’s lawyers sent proposed interrogatories to the Department of Justice regarding three officers on March 6, 2023.

“On March 9, 2023, [the Department of Justice] advised that the Crown defendants would not consent to the interrogatories being served,” Bilawich said.

“The practical answer is that while the publication bans remain in effect, the Crown defendants will object to answering the interrogatories on that basis,” Bilawich ruled.

“The plaintiffs will be obliged to make a second application to try to compel answers to the interrogatories, which will also be opposed,” he said. “The plaintiffs will inevitably find it necessary to address variation of the publication bans and sealing orders. The contents of the court files are likely relevant to issues in dispute in this action.”

Bilawich said the defendants are entitled to costs in the application.