Heavyweight lawyers involved in Basran sexual assault case

Former mayor has hired top talent for defence

Kelowna’s former mayor has tapped one of the top legal minds in British Columbia as he faces a charge of sexual assault.

Basran has hired Richard Peck to mount his defence, one of the top criminal lawyers in not just British Columbia, but the nation. An agent appeared on behalf of Peck for Basran’s first appearance Tuesday afternoon.

First appearances are procedural matters and Basran, himself, was not obliged to be there.

The case was set over to Feb. 21, as the defence team had just received new evidence and needed time to review it.

Peck has taken up some highly publicized cases, most recently helping the former mayor of Surrey, Doug McCallum, be found not guilty of public mischief charges.

Peck was also tapped as the lead lawyer for Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei tech executive who faced extradition to the United States on fraud charges that could have landed her in jail for years. Those charges were eventually dismissed by the U.S.

In 2005, he successfully represented accused Air India bombing suspect Ajaib Singh Bagri.

In a feature in The Globe & Mail published in January 2020, Peck, who was 71 at the time, was described by his peers as “an old-fashioned English-style barrister, with a watch dangling from his vest pocket.”

Canadian Lawyer Magazine named Peck one of Canada’s most influential lawyers.

Prosecuting the case is Brock Martland, who was appointed by the B.C. Prosecution Service to handle the case, given the public interest.

Martland most recently successfully defended Vancouver Canuck Jake Virtanen, who was facing sexual assault allegations. He, too, acted as counsel for one of the accused in the 1985 Air India bombing, Ripudaman Singh Malik. Singh Malik was acquitted in 2005 but was shot and killed in Surrey in July 2022.

Basran faces one charge of sexual assault for an incident that is alleged to have occurred in May 2022, while he was still mayor.

An investigation by the Kelowna RCMP has already occurred, and the findings were independently reviewed by the Nelson Police Department. No details about the alleged victim or incident have been made public.

The announcement of the appointment of the special prosecutor was postponed until the investigation was complete and the charge was approved.

The prosecutor was appointed on Oct. 13, two days before the municipal election on Oct. 15.

Published 2023-01-24 by Tyler Marr

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