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Premier may testify at murder trial

Premier Dwight Ball speaks to reporters Monday.
Dwight Ball

Premier Dwight Ball may testify at the Brandon Phillips murder trial underway in St. John’s.

Phillips is accused of killing Larry Wellman during a robbery of the Captain’s Quarters hotel in 2015. Ball’s daughter, Jade, was in a romantic relationship with Phillips around that time.

On Monday of this week, when jury selection for the trial was just getting underway, Ball was asked by reporters whether he expected to be asked to testify, and he said he hadn’t been asked.

On Thursday, unsolicited, he said in the interest of full transparency, he needed to let people know that he had received a subpoena.

“Late this morning I was given notice of the possibility of having to present at the trial,” he told reporters.

One of Phillips’ defence lawyers is New Democratic Party president Mark Gruchy, which sets up the possibility of a situation where the NDP president might cross-examine the premier at a murder trial.

Ball could invoke parliamentary privilege to avoid testifying; no sitting member of the House of Assembly can be compelled to testify in court while the legislature is sitting.

But Ball said he wouldn’t go that route.

“I will do whatever it takes to make sure that justice is heard, and I will do whatever I can, whatever I’m asked to do,” he said.

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