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Found the news this morning that a federal court had quashed certain findings of the Gomery Commission quite fascinating. There were a few heads shaking when former Prime Minister Jean Chretien filed suit against John Gomery to protest bias and a lack of fairness in his report. The decision handed down yesterday completely upheld those claims, and the court ordered findings in the Gomery report - those that concluded Chretien and his staff were partly responsible for the Adscam scandal - quashed.I found it interesting because that is essentially what former Crocus CEO Sherman Kreiner is trying to do here in Winnipeg. The embattled Kreiner filed suit in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench alleging bias and a lack of fairness and due process in the work of former Manitoba Auditor General Jon Singleton. (I include below a copy of the most recent story on this suit - I could not find a live link to the story so it's the best I could do.)Crocus stopped trading in December 2004. Singleton's investigation of Crocus in April 2005 painted a damning picture of an investment fund out of control and desperate to cover its mistakes. Singleton concluded valuations of certain Crocus investments had been deliberately overstated to protect the share price. He also took issue with expenses and benefits enjoyed by former Crocus chief investment officer James Umlah. Among the biggest impacts of the report is the RCMP criminal investigation, which continues to simmer somewhere on the backburner.Like Chretien, Kreiner's decision to file suit had a lot of heads shaking. How can you quash a finding in a report that's already been released to the public? In truth, you cannot erase the past but if you are one of the people named in a report like this, you can certainly make your point that you were not treated fairly.In Chretien, the federal judge determined Gomery had reached his conclusions without hearing all the evidence. This is one of the most fundamental issues in both the Chretien and Kreiner suits. Kreiner claims that by the time he was interviewed by OAG investigators, Singleton had already reached his conclusions about who was responsible for the Crocus collapse. On this point, there appears to be little disagreement; a draft copy of the voluminous report was delivered to the Crocus board just a few days after Kreiner was interviewed. Kreiner has, in his documents, shown quite clearly that material facts in his statements to the OAG were not included in the report. Regardless of whether Kreiner's version of events is believable or not, the principle upheld by the Chretien decision is that you cannot slam someone without giving them a chance to defend themselves.Kreiner's suit is still working its way through the courts, but he has won an important pre-trial decision that upheld his right to challenge the manner in which Singleton ran his investigation. Lawyers from the province had argued the OAG is beyond such claims because it is protected by parliamentary privilege - a broad legal concept that protects otherwise defamatory statements and findings from legal action.Regardless of the outcome of the Kreiner suit, there are those who will be resolute in their belief that the former Crocus executive is the bad guy. Just as many people still believe Chretien had a hand in Adscam. And yet, it's important that the tools we use to ferret out wrongdoing - criminal investigation, judicial inquiry, and investigation by an office like the OAG - be done in strict accordance with the principles of fairness and due process. The court decisions may not repair the reputations of those defamed in the original investigations, but it keeps the investigators on their toes.*****Crocus ex-CEO wins legal victoryWinnipeg Free PressThursday, December 6, 2007Page: B3Section: CityByline: Dan LettFORMER Crocus Investment Fund CEO Sherman Kreiner is one step closer to his day in court.The Manitoba Court of Appeal decided unanimously Wednesday that Kreiner is free to challenge former auditor general Jon Singleton's landmark investigation and report into the collapse of Crocus.Ken Dolinsky, the lawyer representing Kreiner, said the court was persuaded there is merit to Kreiner's case and that issues raised about the manner and scope of Singleton's investigation, and the conclusions reached in his report, should be heard by a court."What I took from the court's decision was that it saw the issues raised by Sherman as issues of broader interest that can go forward on their merits and be decided by a court," Dolinsky said.In the fall of 2006, Kreiner filed an application to have the court review the method used and conclusions in his investigation of the Crocus Investment Fund. Singleton launched the investigation shortly after the fund stopped trading in December 2004. Kreiner has asked that certain parts of the report be quashed.Kreiner argued in court documents that the report, released in June 2005, irreparably damaged his career and paralyzed Manitoba's venture capital markets. Kreiner has claimed Singleton overstepped his powers and failed to consider conflicting accounts of what happened to the doomed fund.A Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench judge determined that Kreiner's suit had the merit to proceed to trial. The office of the auditor general appealed that decision, setting the stage for Wednesday's judgment.Bill Haight, the lawyer representing the office of the auditor general, said he's not in a position to comment.In previous pleadings, Haight has said Kreiner's suit is "frivolous." Haight has also argued that Singleton cannot be sued because his work is protected by legislation granting the auditor general privilege.Despite Wednesday's decision, Dolinsky acknowledged it's too early to schedule a trial date.The office of the auditor general could make application to have this appellate decision reviewed by the Supreme Court of Canada, he added.-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.

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