MPCC-2014-022-Interference

This complaint arises from an investigation into the disappearance of $2,500 of Non-Public Funds (NPF) from a Royal Canadian Navy vessel.  The missing funds were first noticed during an audit by the ship's Logistics Officer, a Lieutenant-Commander, who then contacted the Master Seaman who had been in charge of the funds in question regarding the discrepancy.  The Master Seaman had since been transferred overseas and reported to a new chain of command (CoC).  The Logistics Officer called the Master Seaman, who appeared to admit fault, reportedly stating something to the effect that he had “royally messed up, this is the biggest *!&%-up of his career and requested to return the funds”.  The Master Seaman then informed his new Commanding Officer (CO), a Major, of the issue.  The Major, the subject of this interference investigation, then spoke with the Logistics Officer to clarify the investigation process.  The Logistics Officer subsequently reported the missing funds to the military police (MP).  The complainant is the MP member responsible for the criminal investigation.

During the course of the MP investigation, the results of the audit were confirmed, and the Master Seaman was notified that he was now the subject of a criminal investigation.  The Master Seaman was asked to attend the nearest Military Police Unit (MPU) for an interview. Following this request, the Master Seaman's new CO, the subject, called the MPU to clarify the nature of the investigation.  In an email reporting on this phone call, an assisting MP member stated the subject identified himself as the Master Seaman's assisting officer, knew details of the investigation, and had struck a deal with the Logistics Officer that a summary investigation would be completed prior to the criminal investigation.  The assisting MP member also believed he heard the Master Seaman in the room with the subject during the phone call.  Subsequently, the Master Seaman attended the MPU for an interview but declined to be interviewed when duty counsel could not be reached.  The Master Seaman ultimately declined to participate in the criminal investigation after speaking with legal counsel. 

The complainant considered the fact that the subject apparently had: identified himself as an assisting officer; stated he had an agreement with the Logistics Officer that the summary investigation would be completed first; knew first-hand information about the facts of the case; had the Master Seaman-the suspect in the MP investigation-in the room with him during a phone call with the MP member, without so indicating; and the fact that after speaking to his new CoC, the Master Seaman seemed to have backed off from his admission of fault. The complainant felt the confluence of these facts indicated a pattern of interference in the MP investigation, and so submitted his complaint. 

Through its investigation, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) determined that although the appearance of interference may have been understandable, the subject's purpose in intervening in the investigations by the Logistics Officer and the MP was to clarify the process for his subordinate and to ensure proper procedure was being followed.  It was also determined that the suspect Master Seaman declined to give a statement to the MP members as a result of legal advice, rather than due to the involvement of the subject.  In doing so, the subject may have unintentionally created the appearance of interference, but the evidence did not support that he intended to interfere with the MP investigation, nor did he objectively do so.

In the MPCC's view, this complaint arose because of miscommunication and misunderstanding on the part of those involved.  Therefore, the MPCC found the allegation to be unsubstantiated.

Date modified: