Missing women inquiry boss Wally Oppal admits to chat with member of Hells Angels

'Unbeknownst to me'


VANCOUVER - The head of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry called to examine how police botched investigations into serial killer Robert Pickton has admitted to having recently engaged in a "casual" encounter and conversation with a Hells Angels motorcycle club member.

"I recently attended a public entertainment event at B.C. Place Stadium," Wally Oppal, the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry chief, said in a statement emailed from his office to inquiry participants late Friday afternoon. "During this event, I had the occasion to briefly speak with a person that, unbeknownst to me, is reportedly a member of the Hells Angels.

"Not being aware of this person's reported affiliations, I had a casual conversation with him. Had I known that this person was reportedly a member of the Hells Angels, I would not have had even this brief exchange with him."

A former B.C. Court of Appeal judge and former B.C. attorney general, Mr. Oppal said that while the exchange "was of no substance, when I learned of the reported affiliation of this person, I felt it was necessary to communicate what happened to [inquiry] participants."

Unsubstantiated rumours surfaced earlier this week that Mr. Oppal had been captured on camera in the company of a full-patch Hells Angel member. Mr. Oppal was purportedly seen embracing the person.

Public hearings at the missing women inquiry concluded this week, with some lawyers questioning why evidence regarding relationships between members of the Hells Angels, police, Robert Pickton and his brother, David Pickton, was not introduced or closely examined. Mr. Oppal made a number of rulings over the course of the hearings phase that angered some lawyers and their clients.

The inquiry has been beset with controversy since it was called by the B.C. government in 2010. Hearings began in October. By February, citing lack of proper document disclosure by police, a lawyer for the families of 25 missing and murdered women alleged that the inquiry was "enabling a police cover-up," a charge that Mr. Oppal vigorously denied.

In April, the National Post brought to light allegations of harassment and intimidation occurring inside the commission of inquiry office in Vancouver. The commission's executive director, a former Vancouver Police Department sergeant, was placed on paid leave and a Vancouver lawyer was appointed to investigate the allegations. A second Vancouver lawyer, Peter Gall, was appointed to oversee the investigation and act as a media contact. The Post asked Mr. Gall this week to provide an investigation update. He did not offer one.

Later in April, Mr. Oppal appeared in a sadistic slasher movie filmed in Vancouver. He played the victim of a serial killer, a role he said he enjoyed. Relatives of women murdered by Pickton said they were appalled at Mr. Oppal's behaviour.

Mr. Oppal insisted in his email sent Friday that his "brief, chance exchange" with the Hells Angel member "does not have any impact or influence on the report and recommendations I will develop." He is to submit his report to the province in October.




Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016