A Victoria lawyer has taken personal responsibility for the mistake that listed Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell as a director of an organization favouring amalgamation.
James Legh of Stevenson, Luchies and Legh said Atwell’s name appeared as a director of Amalgamation Yes, because one of his office staff (who no longer works for him) incorrectly transcribed the minutes of the society’s initial meeting.
“It’s my mistake,” said Legh. “The buck stops here.”
The question of Atwell’s association with Amalgamation Yes is at the centre of a legal dispute between Atwell and one of his three competitors for Saanich’s mayoral office — Coun. Fred Haynes.
Atwell’s lawyer Robin Gage sent a cease-and-desist letter dated Sept. 7 to Haynes, which asks Haynes to stop the distribution of campaign material considered false or misleading and “correct and retract” the false statement.
“To be clear, Mayor Atwell is not now nor has he ever been a director of Amalgamation Yes or any related society or organization,” Gage wrote. “We remind you that is an offence to make false or misleading statements in election advertising, and reserve all of our rights in that regard,” she added later in challenging Haynes’ campaign literature, which in part makes the following claim:
“Unlike [Mayor] Richard Atwell, I have never been a director of Amalgamation Yes. I have an open mind.”
Records show from the provincial registry show Atwell as one of 15 directors of the Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society as of June 15, 2013.
“It’s the public record and it speaks for itself,” said Haynes.
Atwell said earlier his name appears in the registry by mistake, adding that he is working to correct the error in that single record, which is out of sync with minutes and other filed documents.
While Atwell attended the meeting and appears in the minutes as a member of the nominating committee, he was never a director, said Legh, adding that Atwell never signed a consent form to be a director.
Mistakes happen, said Legh. “But the mistake does not make a director.”
Legh said the his office has since started the process of correcting the error with the registry, which he said could take several weeks.
Legh, for the record, remains involved with Amalgamation Yes.
“In that sense, I’m biased,” he said.