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Federal government settles wrongful-conviction lawsuit with Ivan Henry

Last Updated Nov 27, 2015 at 10:00 am EDT

Ivan Henry leaves B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday August 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – A second defendant has settled a wrongful-conviction lawsuit with a British Columbia man who spent almost three decades behind bars before being acquitted of 10 sexual assaults.

Ivan Henry’s lawyer told a B.C. Supreme Court trial on Thursday that the federal government had settled with his client for an undisclosed amount.

John Laxton read a statement to the judge saying the federal government never made allegations that Henry was guilty.

“The federal government now states that no inference should be drawn that the federal government ever agreed with these (guilty) allegations,” said the statement.

“Or, that the federal government ever condoned the making of these allegations — and the federal government absolutely disavows them now.”

The argument that Henry was actually guilty of the crimes came from the City of Vancouver in its opening statement at the compensation hearing.

But the city settled with Henry last week, and “unequivocally” withdrew its accusations. The deal also resolved claims against the Vancouver Police Department.

After Thursday’s hearing, another lawyer for Henry said the terms of the agreement are confidential.

“He’s obviously pleased that this part of the case is behind him, but he appreciates that we have to move forward with the rest of the trial,” said Marilyn Sandford in an interview.

The provincial government remains the only defendant in the case and is expected to call its last witness on Friday.

The federal government had been slated to open its case after the province had concluded its submissions.

Federal government lawyer Mitchell Taylor also refrained from providing details of the settlement.

“(Henry and his lawyer) will not be making any further claims against the federal government to do with Mr. Henry’s situation,” Taylor said Thursday.

Henry, 69, launched his suit against the federal and provincial governments and the City of Vancouver after the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled he had been wrongfully convicted.

The trial to establish whether damages were warranted began in August.

Henry was convicted in 1983 of rape and indecent assault against eight women in Vancouver and declared a dangerous offender.

A lawyer for the B.C. government has told court that Henry’s case may have ended differently years ago had he chosen not to represent himself and accepted a publicly funded lawyer instead.

However, that legal argument has been heavily criticized by those who say the province controls legal-aid funding.

The decisions by two levels of government to settle with Henry have expedited his trial, which had been expected to last 100 days.

— Follow @TamsynBurgmann on Twitter

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