The trial of Chris Barber and Tamara Lich in Ottawa continued with a dispute over the release of Ottawa Police Service (OPS) communications. Both Barber and Lich are facing charges of mischief intimidation, obstruction of police, and counselling others to commit mischief, intimidation, and obstruction of police. These charges stem from their involvement in organizing the 2022 Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, a peaceful demonstration against government COVID-19 measures.
The Crown is arguing to maintain redactions on OPS documents requested by the defence for full disclosure. One category of documents relates to data erased from the work phones of two OPS officers who were Crown witnesses in the trial. The other category pertains to an email chain between OPS Police Liaison Team (PLT) officers.
The defence is requesting full disclosure of the email chain, which is heavily redacted except for the subject line and email addresses. The Crown is claiming solicitor-client privilege as the basis for retaining the redactions, despite the email not involving lawyers. The OPS’s legal department sent a representative to defend their claim. The representative argued that the police-to-police emails should remain confidential because they contain information related to legal counsel provided by the OPS’s legal department.
Diane Magas, Barber’s legal counsel, pointed out that the email chain does not involve communication with legal counsel, which is a requirement for solicitor-client privilege. Justice Heather Perkins-McVey, the presiding judge, agreed with Magas’s argument, questioning how the police can be considered a client for the purpose of solicitor-client privilege.
Another issue raised by the defence is the erased data from the work phones of two OPS PLT officers. The officers claim the data was wiped during a system update or upgrade. The judge expressed concern over the officers not taking the necessary steps to preserve relevant documents for disclosure.
Eric Granger, co-counsel for Tamara Lich, stated that the ongoing disclosure dispute may be resolved when the trial resumes next week.
In summary, the Crown and defence teams are locked in a dispute over the release of OPS communications in the trial of Chris Barber and Tamara Lich. The defence is seeking full disclosure, while the Crown is arguing for redactions based on solicitor-client privilege. The trial will resume next week, and it is hoped that the disclosure dispute will be resolved.