MPCC-2009-038

The alleged victim of these calls was a civilian telecommunications employee working on a CF base. All calls allegedly originated from base telephones to the employee’s work site and off-base residence. Calls at work would be inexplicably disconnected or interrupted by a clicking sound which the employee suspected was a third party listening on the line.

The complainant, also a telecommunications technician at the same base, was the subject of an MP investigation. The complainant and the alleged victim had recently ended a romantic relationship and the calls began shortly after the victim began dating another individual on the base who then also began receiving hang-up calls.

The complainant was arrested and charged by the MP with criminal harassment and the interception of private communications under the Criminal Code. The charges were ultimately withdrawn by the prosecutor who doubted there was a reasonable prospect of conviction because it was discovered it might not have been technologically possible for the complainant to listen in on the victim’s telephone calls. The ability to do so is a requirement of the “interception” charge.

The complainant alleged that the investigating MP should have determined whether the allegations were technically feasible before arresting and charging the complainant and that the MP lacked the necessary legal grounds for doing so. The complainant also alleged that the MP investigation was “well below” the expected policing standard.

The Commission determined mistakes were made in the MP investigation (e.g. inaccurate and potentially misleading information was included in the investigation file). However, the information available to the MP supported reasonable grounds to arrest the complainant and lay charges because the MP had initially been informed by technical experts that it was possible for the complainant to listen to as well as disconnect calls on base telephones. Given the adequacy of the grounds to arrest and charge the complainant, the investigation was not “well below” the expected policing standards. Moreover, the complainant was not prejudiced by any of the mistakes attributable to the MP. As a result, the Commission found the complaints to be unsubstantiated.

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