The Frank Paul Inquiry was interrupted for two days this week as lawyers representing the Attorney General of BC made legal arguments about the scope of the terms of reference that were approved by the Attorney General himself. Richard Peck, QC and Michael Code were seeking a direction from Commissioner William Davies QC that none of the prosecutors involved in the case be questioned about their decision not to lay criminal charges.

Commission Counsel Geoff Cowper, QC opposed the Attorney General’s application, as did lawyers representing Frank Paul’s family, the United Native Nations Society, the BC Civil Liberties Association and Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto.

On behalf of the UNNS, we argued that the Inquiry’s terms of reference were clear, that other commissions of inquiry have routinely reviewed prosecutorial conduct and decision-mauking and that the issue of why no charges were laid is of critical importance to the Inquiry’s work. We pointed out that objectively, this was a clear case of criminal negligence causing death, but that no police officer has ever been charged in the death of an aboriginal person in BC and that Crown Counsel seem to have an unwritten code that precludes them from laying charges in these cases. These observations have important ramifications for the administration of justice within the province.

Commissioner Davies reserved decision on the application, and the Inquiry resumes next Wednesday, January 23, 2008 with testimony from former Chief Coroner Larry Campbell, current Chief Coroner Terry Smith and other members of the BC Coroners Service. They are expected to testify as to why no inquest was ever held into Mr. Paul’s death.