Gordon Campbell says assault complaint when he was top diplomat to U.K. was 'dealt with fully,' has no comment on new lawsuit
Published Wednesday, September 2, 2020 4:21PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, September 3, 2020 7:38PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- A sexual assault complaint at the centre of a new lawsuit against Gordon Campbell was "fully and independently reviewed" and "dealt with, fully," the former B.C. premier said Thursday.
The allegations involve Judith Prins, a former employee who served under Campbell at the Canadian High Commission in London, and date back to 2013.
They first came to light last year, when Prins told the Telegraph newspaper she was climbing the main staircase of Canada House on Trafalgar Square to a meeting, and Campbell, who was Canada’s top diplomat to the U.K. at the time, groped her from behind.
“We had a situation where a complaint was made, two complaints were made to the High Commission,” Campbell told CTV News Thursday outside his home near Ottawa.
“There was a complete review then, and it was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction."
Prins confirmed to CTV News this week that she has filed a lawsuit in the U.K. against Campbell and Global Affairs Canada. When asked if he wanted to respond directly to Prins’ lawsuit, Campbell said, “No.”
Campbell’s lawyer, Peter Gall Q.C., said Thursday that the alleged assault “never happened” and called the assault accusation “ludicrous.”
On Wednesday, John Babcock, a spokesperson with Global Affairs Canada, told CTV News, in a statement: “The government of Canada takes any allegations of sexual assault and harassment extremely seriously. This kind of alleged misconduct in the workplace is absolutely unacceptable.”
Babcock had no further comment, he wrote, as the matter is before the courts.
According to the Telegraph report, Prins filed a formal complaint about the alleged assault in January 2014, and came to a settlement, which she told the Telegraph she was prohibited from discussing.
Campbell’s lawyer said the complaint was found to be “of no merit.”
“If it had been of merit, obviously the federal government would have taken action,” Gall said.
Campbell also confirmed to CTV News that the 2014 settlement included a non-disclosure agreement.
When asked if he’d be willing to waive the NDA, Campbell responded: “I think it’s important to follow these processes fully for all the people involved. This was dealt with fully, independently, and that’s all I really have to say.”
When asked about the NDA, Gall said: “It simply says that [Prins] is withdrawing the complaint and that there’s no finding of any wrongdoing, or anything like that.”
When reached via email Thursday, Central London County Court was unable to provide CTV News with a copy of the lawsuit, and said Prins had made an application to extend time for serving the claim.
“Therefore, as yet, there is no particulars of claim and as it has not been served there is no response,” wrote Peter Hardy, an administration officer with the court’s correspondence section.
Hardy wrote that permission had “been granted to serve out of jurisdiction” and said it appeared that the claim was related to the Telegraph article where the alleged assault was first reported.
He said Prins was representing herself.
Prins had no further comment.
CTV News also reached out to the London Metropolitan Police, which launched an investigation in early 2019, the Telegraph reported, after Prins filed a complaint.
Thursday, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “No arrests have been made and inquiries are ongoing.”
When asked Thursday if Campbell had been contacted by U.K. law enforcement in connection with the alleged assault, he responded: “No.”
Campbell served as Canada’s High Commissioner to the U.K. from 2011 to 2016.
According to the Telegraph, the alleged sexual assault took place in September 2013.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.