The results of a forensic investigation commissioned by lawyers for Lakeland Mills into the fatal explosion at the mill will be made available to the inquest investigating the two deaths that resulted from that explosion.
After presiding coroner Lisa Lapointe had ruled last week that the information was relevant and necessary to the inquest, counsel for the mill said on Monday that it would no longer be asserting privilege over the information.
Coroner Lapointe directed that all materials relating to the forensic engineering investigation be shared with all counsel at the inquest, and Lakeland counsel Gavin Marshall supplied it at the end of Monday’s proceedings for the first time.
Inquest counsel is now making efforts to confirm the availability of a witness from the forensic engineering firm to testify at the inquest.
The existence of the investigation came to light only as a result of questioning of witnesses by inquest counsel John M. Orr, QC. Though Lakeland counsel initially advised that the information was subject to privilege and would not advance the inquest, coroner Lapointe found it was necessary to fulfil the inquest’s goals of informing the public about the circumstances of the deaths of Allan Little and Glenn Roche, and ensuring the jury had all available information to consider recommendations to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.
Commenting on the Steelworkers Union’s decision Monday to withdraw from the inquest, Orr noted that counsel for the union had made a valuable contribution to the proceedings to date, and expressed regret that the union has left the process before all witnesses have testified.
Orr noted that it appears premature to suggest, as the union has done, that all questions will not be answered and that WorkSafeBC will not be held accountable, as several key witnesses remain to be examined, including top officials from WorkSafe and also the president of Lakeland Mills.
Further witnesses are scheduled to testify at the inquest on Tuesday.
Coroner, Strategic Programs
BC Coroners Service
250 356-9253 or 250 213-5020