The law firm retained to defend former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum in his public mischief trial billed Surrey taxpayers almost $317,000.
That is according to the statement of financial information for 2022, which was quietly published last week.
The precise total billed by Peck and Company Barristers is $316,663.50, according to the statutory annual sunshine list.
Brenda Locke, who defeated McCallum in the Oct. 15 civic election, came to power promising transparency and vowed to pursue repayment.
A Provincial Court judge ruled McCallum not guilty on Nov. 21 of the charge that he made a false report to police about a Keep the RCMP in Surrey protester driving over his left foot on Labour Day weekend in 2021.
During the five-day trial, McCallum was represented by three lawyers and an assistant, including Richard Peck and Eric Gottardi from the team that defended Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou against extradition to the U.S.
McCallum did not testify.
City of Surrey chose to temporarily withhold the total dollar figure paid to Peck and Company for 2022 in response to a March 28 freedom of information application.
When city hall responded May 11, after the law’s 30-workday deadline, it cited a clause that allows a public body to refuse disclosure of information that must be published under another law. In this case, the Financial Information Act, which requires Surrey city hall to release the list of payments to suppliers and staff in the annual statement of financial information by June 30 every year.
In a campaign video published last September on Surrey Connect’s Facebook page, Locke warned McCallum.
“So Doug, you better be very careful with every minute you spend with your lawyer because we are coming after you for every dime you spend,” Locke said on the video, which remains visible.
In an interview after her victory speech, Locke reiterated her stance. “We’ll be asking our city legal [department] to figure out a way to get that money back and to make Mr. McCallum pay for his legal bills.”
City of Surrey’s indemnity bylaw still contains a clause that states it will shield municipal officials against payment of costs to defend a prosecution in connection with “the performance or intended performance of the person’s duties.”
Keep the RCMP in Surrey members were outside the Southpoint Save-on-Foods on Sept. 4, 2021, collecting signatures for a petition they hoped would trigger a referendum on McCallum’s program to replace the RCMP with the Surrey Police Service (SPS). One of the petitioners, who was driving a Mustang convertible, yelled at McCallum to resign the mayoralty and unleashed a barrage of profanity at him. In court, Debi Johnstone denied McCallum’s hit and run allegation. McCallum told reporters after the incident that he was there on a grocery shopping trip.
A majority of Surrey city council voted behind closed doors on June 15 to keep the RCMP and shut down the SPS. The NDP government, which has offered $150 million to switch to the SPS, has not yet approved the decision.
According to the city’s statement of financial information, Surrey paid $674.6 million to suppliers in 2022.