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Publication ban would 'make a mockery' of Phoenix Sinclair inquiry: lawyer

Ruling expected next week

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A lawyer representing the family of a Phoenix Sinclair argued today against a publication ban that would shield the identities of social workers involved in the girl’s case, saying it would make a mockery of the inquiry to look into her death.

Hearings continued Friday at the inquiry to examine the circumstances around the death of five-year-old Sinclair, who was killed by her mother and stepfather in 2005.

Jeffrey Gindin, the lawyer acting for Phoenix’s former foster mother Kim Edwards and biological father Steve Sinclair, said having a publication ban in place on professionals involved in Phoenix’s care would undermine the inquiry.

Gindin said there are people who have waited "an awful long time" for the inquiry to happen, and a ban – if granted - would "make a mockery of the inquiry."

Gindin said arguments in favour of the ban – which one lawyer said earlier this week would make social workers "game for the bloody-minded" - have been speculative and vague.

"It doesn’t matter that some people don’t want to have an inquiry, or that an inquiry is difficult on some people," said Gindin.

"Nobody wants to testify anywhere. (In) my experience in 40 years, I’ve never met somebody who wants to come to court and testify. Nobody wants to, but they have to."

Hughes will render his decision about the publication ban next Thursday.

Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck also appeared before retired judge Ted Hughes Friday morning over footage he took Wednesday of the room where the inquiry proceedings were happening.

The video was later posted to the Winnipeg Sun website. Inquiry rules state there was only one video camera and operator allowed in the hearing room to share the footage amongst media outlets. Brodbeck told Hughes allegations he filmed the proceedings were false, but acknowledged he filmed the room Wednesday when the hearing wasn't underway.

"I wish to clarify that at no time did I film or videotape the proceedings of this inquiry," said Brodbeck.

Hughes called Brodbeck's actions "disappointing," but accepted Brodbeck’s explanation and said he considered the incident a "one-off."

"I think you understand now that they’ll be no more of that," he said.

Phoenix Sinclair was abused and killed in her home after child-welfare workers took her out of foster care and returned her to her mother. She went missing for more than nine months before her remains were discovered in a landfill on the Fisher River First Nation in 2006.

According to evidence in the first-degree murder trial that led to life sentences for her mother and stepfather, Phoenix was frequently confined, shot with a BB gun and forced to eat her own vomit.

Gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

With files from Canadian Press

 

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