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Civil servant explains delay in sacking accused worker

Dec 08 2011

It took almost six months for B.C.'s children's ministry to fire an employee who was arrested inside a government office, and accused of having two identities, because a supervisor could not get information from police, a Victoria court heard Wednesday.

Arif Lalani, a senior director in the Ministry of Children and Family Development, told a provincial court that he tried unsuccessfully to get information from the RCMP after Mounties arrested one of his employees, Richard Wainwright, at a Victoria government office in April 2009.

Wainwright is on trial relating to charges of allegedly forging a criminal record check under the name Perran to bypass his criminal history and land a government job. The form he submitted to government was allegedly altered and didn't include prior theft and counterfeit convictions from 2004, the court has heard.

Wainwright was a supervisor in the ministry's youth and special-needs office of at the time of his arrest in April 2009.

Lalani said all he knew was Wainwright — who'd been hired by government under the name Richard Wainwright-Perran, and was later known just as Richard Perran — was accused of having two drivers licences under different names.

Wainwright claimed it was because he was trying to "move away from his past," where he'd had a significant drug habit and "got involved with some very bad people," said Lalani. There was also a fight in a bar that left him "almost near death," Lalani testified.

"My response was that I don't judge people and all of this will sort itself out with the RCMP," Lalani said he told Wainwright at the time.

But Lalani said when he tried repeatedly to get more information from RCMP he was only told the investigation was ongoing.

After the arrest, Wainwright went on sick leave. He returned to work after an internal review in May, Lalani said. His job in the children's ministry involved access to confidential client files, as had a previous job in the social development ministry.

"In the absence of anything from the RCMP... I had no other information," said Lalani.

It wasn't until October that Lalani said he was told by a government criminal investigator about allegations Wainwright had forged his criminal record check.

Lalani said he recommended Wainwright be suspended without pay and ultimately fired. Then deputy minister Lesley Du Toit terminated his employment in October 2009.

Under cross-examination by Wainwright's lawyer, Kirk Karaszkiewicz, Lalani said managers were shocked at the allegations because Wainwright was a good employee.

Wainwright earned $137,238.93 in salary for his government job during 2006 to 2009, according to agreed-upon facts.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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