Federal public servant pleads not guilty as shipbuilding trial begins

·1 min read

OTTAWA — A federal public servant has pleaded not guilty to breach of trust for allegedly leaking government secrets about a $700-million shipbuilding project.

Matthew Matchett entered the plea this morning during the start of his trial, more than three years after he was first charged.

Matchett is accused of allegedly leaking secret cabinet documents about a contract between the federal government and Chantier Davie shipyard in Quebec in November 2015.

That is when the new Liberal government decided to hold off finalizing a contract with Davie to lease a temporary supply ship for the navy, a deal they later approved.

Matchett, who was charged in February 2019, has elected to be tried by jury and the trial is expected to run four weeks.

In 2017, retired vice-admiral Mark Norman was suspended as the military's second-in-command and later charged with breach of trust in 2018 over allegations he leaked cabinet secrets about the same shipbuilding project.

Norman pleaded not guilty and Crown prosecutors eventually stayed the charge in May 2019, saying that new evidence they'd received from Norman's defence team had led them to conclude there was no reasonable chance of a conviction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2022.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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