Pubdate: Sat, 24 Mar 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts, Times Colonist


How The RCMP Enlists Informants Should Raise Some Eyebrows, Says 
Victoria Lawyer

Parliament needs to take a close look at how the RCMP enlists 
informants as well as the Witness Protection Program, people involved 
with the Richard Young case said yesterday.

"It should raise some eyebrows," Victoria lawyer Tom Bulmer said in 
an interview.

He was speaking following news a Victoria man, Richard Young, a 
dubious RCMP informant, had been handed a new identity, money, and 
inserted into a new community, where he was convicted of killing someone.

But the Canadian Witness Protection Program Act makes it illegal to 
publicize anything about Young's new identity, the location of the 
offence or its nature.

Bulmer said that amounts to blanket protection for the RCMP, who 
placed a dangerous person into an innocent community.

"There has to be a balance to protect that other community as well," 
said Bulmer. Police routinely hound newly released offenders whose 
sentences are up with public warnings, he said.

Bulmer was the Victoria lawyer representing Barry Liu, the subject of 
a police investigation and surveillance. Liu was the man Richard 
Young offered to spy on for the RCMP, beginning in 2000.

Young's double-agent role -- helping Liu while informing to the RCMP 
- -- allowed him to infiltrate Bulmer's office, a move the lawyer 
called a gross violation of solicitor-client privilege, a confidence 
protected by law.

Bulmer said the only thing that could have been worse was if Mounties 
planted an electronic bug in his office and listened to conversations.

Instead "they put a human bug in my office," he said.

Mounties were unwilling or unable to see Young for the liar he really 
was, said Bulmer.

In early 2001, Young told Mounties that Liu was planning to 
assassinate a Victoria provincial court judge, a defence lawyer, a 
Crown attorney, an RCMP constable and a fifth unnamed person. 
Mounties obtained authorization to tap Liu's phone. Months went by 
and nothing happened.

But then a young Asian man was seen writing down licence plate 
numbers in the parking lot of RCMP headquarters on Nanaimo Street. 
Another was seen tailing an RCMP van. Mounties moved in and arrested 
Liu on drug charges.

Bulmer said he became suspicious and did something the Mountie 
investigators didn't: He checked out Young's story. Bulmer went to a 
known hangout of Asian young people and asked some questions.

He found young men who had been paid by Young with cigarettes and gas 
to write down licence numbers in the RCMP parking lot and tail 
vehicles. These young people even testified about it in court.

In 2002, a judge threw out all evidence gathered during the wiretaps. 
Liu was acquitted of all charges.

Jeff Green, a Victoria lawyer who was one of the alleged potential 
victims in a murder conspiracy, said he never really took the threat seriously.

On the other hand, Green said he's serious about wanting to learn 
Richard Young's new identity and information about the killing that 
happened while Young was in the Witness Protection Program. "If that 
means we are going to be having secret trials in Canada now then I 
think the act needs to be revisited by Parliament," said Green, 
referring to the fact that the witness protection program prevents 
details about the killing from being made public.

A member of the Victoria RCMP drug squad declined to comment about 
the Richard Young case.

Staff Sgt. Hugh Clarke, who is in charge of the Vancouver Island drug 
section for the RCMP, said paid informants are a regular part of 
police investigations.

"In general terms -- do we use paid informants? Yes," said Clarke. 
"Do we pay them to commit crimes? No."

But he said it's rare for RCMP to take in an informant, pay him and 
eventually put him in a witness protection program in a new location. 
"It's an expensive proposition."

Peter Firestone was the Victoria lawyer who represented Bulmer and 
Liu in an unsuccessful bid to have the whole case against Liu thrown 
out because Mounties had violated solicitor-client privilege. "The 
RCMP knows in this case the ends do not justify the means," said Firestone.
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