B.C. clerk was 'uncomfortable' with retirement benefits paid to her and predecessor Craig James, court hears
British Columbia’s clerk of the legislative assembly Kate Ryan-Lloyd said she was “uncomfortable” with the retirement benefit she received in 2012 while deputy to her predecessor, a court heard Friday.
Ryan-Lloyd took the stand for a third day during the trial of the former clerk, Craig James.
James is accused of misspending public money for personal gain and has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of breach of trust by a public officer.
Crown prosecutor David Butcher told the court this week that the case is focusing on three main areas: a nearly-$287,000 retirement allowance, the purchase of a trailer and wood splitter intended for emergencies at the legislature but stored at James's house, and travel expenses including personal souvenirs.
Friday’s proceedings centered mostly on the retirement benefits paid out in 2012 to both James and Ryan-Lloyd.
Ryan-Lloyd said she was “skeptical” in late 2011 when James initially told her of the existence of such a payment program and thought it was “unusual.”
She told the court James had informed her he had received legal advice and they both would be receiving payouts the following year.
“That was very surprising news to me,” she said.
In February 2012, Ryan-Lloyd received a lump sum payment of nearly $119,000. One year later, she returned the money.
In January 2013, Ryan-Lloyd said, her team was notified that external auditors were “seeking additional information” relating to the payments. Ryan-Lloyd said James assured her there was supporting documentation claiming the legitimacy of the payments, but when she requested such documents from his staff, there were none.
Ryan-Lloyd said she was quite “humiliated” when the office said it had no documentation and was “uncomfortable with the receipt of these funds,” and decided to return the money.
Butcher asked Ryan-Lloyd how James responded when she told him of her intention to return the money.
“I do recall that he said, ‘You can do what you want, but I’m keeping mine,’” she said.
Ryan-Lloyd became the first woman to serve as clerk of the B.C. legislature when she was appointed to the role fulltime in 2020.
James has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of breach of trust by a public officer.
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