Matthew Matchett, a federal public servant charged with one count of breach of trust for allegedly leaking secret cabinet documents about a contract between the federal government and Chantier Davie shipyard, leaves the Ottawa courthouse during a break in his trial on Monday, June 6, 2022. The Crown is dropping its case against a federal bureaucrat accused of leaking secret cabinet documents about a $700-million shipbuilding contract. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Crown drops case against federal civil servant in shipbuilding leak trial

OTTAWA — The Crown has dropped its case against a federal bureaucrat who was accused of leaking secret cabinet documents about a $700-million shipbuilding contract.

Matthew Matchett walked out of an Ottawa courthouse a free man after Justice Hugh McLean informed the jury hearing the breach of trust case about the Crown’s decision.

The surprise development came on the fourth day of what was expected to be a four-week trial.

The Crown’s case fell apart after its prime witness, longtime lobbyist Brian Mersereau, testified that he could not remember if Matchett had provided him with a secret memo to cabinet.

Crown prosecutor Mark Covan’s decision to stay the charge today comes more than three years after the Crown’s case against vice-admiral Mark Norman was also dropped.

Both had been accused of leaking information about the Liberal government’s decision in late November 2015 to delay approval of a contract to lease a civilian vessel from a Quebec shipyard for the navy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2022.

The Canadian Press