Media traipsed on terror suspects’ rights: BCCLA
Media descended on the Surrey home of Amanda Korody and John Nuttall, charged in connection with an alleged plot to bomb Canada Day celebrations. The home's landlord allowed the media to go inside the home. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
The mob of reporters and photographers that swept through the suite of a Surrey couple charged in the alleged Canada Day terror plot had no legal right to snoop through their home on Wednesday, according to the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Two days after Mounties arrested Amanda Korody and John Nuttall, their landlord allowed media members to walk freely through the basement suite.
A 24 hours staffer who went into the house twice, witnessed one reporter rifling through a notebook belonging to the couple and videotaping pages. He also noticed things were moved after his initial visit — drawers and closets were opened and artifacts appeared rearranged and grouped. The 24 hours legal team advised the newsroom to refrain from publishing photos from inside the house.
Josh Paterson, executive director of the BCCLA, says nobody should have been in the house in the first place, as there’s only a handful of specific reasons a landlord can legally enter a suite.
“They can do it if there’s an emergency, they can do it if they have to show the unit, or if the tenant had abandoned the unit, but there’s no information here to suggest any of those things are true,” he said. “Just because you got arrested and maybe put in jail, doesn’t end your residential tenancy. That’s a whole separate process. I can think of no possible reason for any of you, any reporters or the landlord to be in the unit.”
Ramesh Thaman, the couple's landlord, told 24 hours he did not seek permission from his tenants to let anyone into their suite, having had no contact with them since their arrest. He said he assumed the media would know whether it was legal to visit the suite.
“Media people should know better than us,” he said. “We are just simple people.”
Thaman said he took care to supervise visiting reporters, except when he had to run upstairs to answer his ringing phone, and insisted reporters not touch his tenants’ belongings.
BC RCMP spokesman Sgt. Peter Thiessen told 24 hours the Mounties were aware of the frenzied media activity at the couple’s home.
“We have no further interest in that suite. We did conduct a lawful search on that suite and completed our search,” he said. “Whether the landlord has the right to offer tours of that suite in the first instance, really is a non-criminal matter.”
But, Paterson says, it sounds like a violation under the BC Residential Tenancy Act.
“Just because you’ve been accused of a crime, all of a sudden your home becomes open season for the media or the landlord?” he said. “Clearly that’s illegal and that’s a problem.”