News Local

Jamie Bacon’s calls to lawyer illegally recorded

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A B.C. Supreme Court judge isn’t satisfied provincial jails are doing enough to prevent the “inadvertent” recording of inmates’ confidential conversations, after he heard gangster Jamie Bacon’s calls to his lawyer in jail were unlawfully recorded.

Justice Mark McEwan decided Monday that the provincial inmate telephone system is still vulnerable, despite fixes made by B.C.’s Corrections Branch after it came to light all of Bacon’s calls to his lawyer made from Surrey Pretrial Services Centre were “intercepted and recorded” between April 6 to Nov. 27, 2009.

“It does appear despite the improvements … the telephone system remains vulnerable to abuse by ‘super-users’ and ‘site-managers’ who are able to change the designation of a lawyer’s telephone number from privileged to non-privileged without leaving a trace,” McEwan wrote in his decision.

The respondent, SPSC warden Debbie Hawboldt, contended in court the recordings were made by “inadvertent error.”

According to the court document released Wednesday, the Corrections Branch has fixed the system by limiting the number of people that could change telephone options to four in the province, giving further training to staff, and offering a phone disconnected to the recording devices, among other changes made to “minimize” the vulnerability.

McEwan wrote he wasn’t given a satisfactory answer by the branch as to why recordings of client-lawyer phone calls can’t be made impossible entirely.

He ordered all recordings be handed over to a court-appointed independent lawyer, that the branch has to demonstrate the system is no longer vulnerable, and said Bacon is entitled to special costs for his application.

Bacon is currently before the courts on a first-degree murder charge and a conspiracy to commit murder charge related to the “Surrey Six” slayings in October 2007 that saw a half-dozen people killed.

The latest ruling is also linked to a string of “other breaches of Mr. Bacon’s constitutional rights,” the judge wrote. Most of the mistreatment violations were intended to isolate Bacon from contact with the outside world, which McEwan found “hazardous to his psychological health and integrity.”


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