Saturday, May 08, 2004

May 8, 2004: Grewals Staffer Rachel Marsden Loses Job

Accused stalker loses political job
Calgary Herald
Saturday, May 8, 2004
Byline: Peter O'Neil

B.C. Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal terminated Friday the contract of Rachel Marsden, a self-described political pundit with "model-like good looks" who has been at the centre of two major stalking controversies on the West Coast.

Marsden, who appears in B.C. provincial court next week to face harassment charges involving a Vancouver radio personality, could have had access to numerous personal files at Grewal's Surrey office.

Marsden, who went by the name Elle Henderson while working in the MP's office, was hired over the objections of Conservative officials.

"This individual was hired against the express wishes of both the party and the leader's office," said Jim Armour, director of communications for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

"MPs, however, are free to hire anyone they want."

Marsden's first brush with controversy occurred in 1996, when Simon Fraser University swim coach Liam Donnelly was fired after Marsden alleged he raped her.

But Donnelly was reinstated after he produced evidence that Marsden was stalking him and had sent him gifts and sexually explicit e-mails.

Marsden is now in court charged with harassing former radio personality Michael Morgan between Oct. 1 and Nov. 14, 2002.

Police said the two had informal sexual relations for about a year, but after that relationship ended Morgan received unwanted e-mails and phone calls.

Grewal said Marsden had the nickname "Elle" in the office and said there was no attempt to hide her identity.

Marsden has been lionized on some conservative U.S. websites because of both her strong views -- often critical of her own country -- and her scantily-clad poses.

B.C. Tory MP ends his work contract with Rachel Marsden
Vancouver Sun
Saturday, May 8, 2004
Byline: Peter O'Neil

CORRECTION: (From The Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, May 25, 2004, page A2) Stories published May 8 and May 13 referred to allegations by an SFU swim coach that he was stalked by former SFU swim team member Rachel Marsden. In fact, the allegations were not proven and SFU declared its investigation into both parties claims of harassment null and void because of flaws in the process. *****

OTTAWA -- B.C. Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal terminated Friday a contract with Rachel Marsden, a self-described political pundit with "model-like good looks" who has been at the centre of two stalking and harassment controversies.

Marsden, who appears in B.C. provincial court next week to face harassment charges involving a Vancouver radio personality, would have had access to numerous personal files at Grewal's Surrey office.

Grewal terminated Marsden after his offices in Vancouver and Surrey received calls from The Sun. An official in Conservative leader Stephen Harper's office had also left a message with Grewal's office seeking clarification of her status.

Marsden, who went by the name "Elle Henderson" while working in the MP's office, was hired over the objections of Conservative officials.

"This individual was hired against the express wishes of both the party and the leader's office," said Jim Armour, Harper's director of communications.

"MPs, however, are free to hire anyone they want."

Grewal said he was aware of Harper's concerns but hired Marsden because he thought she had considerable talent as a writer and could produce material such as press releases.

Marsden's first brush with controversy occurred in 1996, when Simon Fraser University swim coach Liam Donnelly was fired after Marsden alleged he raped her.

But Donnelly was reinstated after he produced evidence that Marsden was stalking him and had sent him gifts and sexually explicit e-mails.

Marsden is now in court charged with harassing former radio personality Michael Morgan between Oct. 1 and Nov. 14, 2002.

Police said the two had informal sexual relations for about a year, but after the relationship ended Morgan received unwanted e-mails and phone calls.

Grewal said Marsden had the nickname Elle in the office and said there was no attempt to hide her identity.

Marsden has been lionized on some conservative U.S. websites because of her strong views and her scantily-clad poses, including one where she's wearing a bustier, a micro-miniskirt, and black stockings.

She boasts on her own site that she is Ms. December in the "2004 Babes-of-the-GOP" wall calendar, which celebrates sexy female commentators who support President George W. Bush's Republican Party, known as the Grand Old Party or GOP.

While she regularly comments on U.S. political developments, she takes regular shots at her own country.

"From gays to pot-smokers, Canada is turning into a tyranny of minorities and special interest groups," she has written. "My homeland is starting to look about as appealingly progressive as the cesspool of Soddom [sic] and Gomorrah."

Marsden was in Grewal's office early Friday before she was terminated but wouldn't come to the phone for an interview. She also wouldn't return the call or reply to an e-mail.

Grewal said he would have been concerned about the security of constituents' files, which cover areas such as taxes and pensions, had Marsden been convicted.

But he pointed out that her case is still before the courts.

"She is talented and has a lot to offer," Grewal, who is running in the new riding of Newton-North Delta, told The Vancouver Sun.

"I should have the privilege of assuming that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

Marsden also worked as a volunteer helping the nomination campaign of Grewal's wife Nina, who is the nominated candidate in the neighbouring riding of Fleetwood--Port Kells.

MPs' staff members are not allowed to do political work during office hours and their salaries are covered by tax dollars.

But Grewal said Marsden's volunteer work, which included writing scripts to be used for volunteers phoning potential supporters, had nothing to do with her contract.

"There's absolutely no relationship. These two things are absolutely unconnected."

Grewal said her termination was in the works because her contracted work was complete. The decision Friday was a "coincidence" that had nothing to do with calls from the media or his leader's office.