MPCC-2002-042-Interference

Facts and Complaint

A Military Police member filed an interference complaint with the Complaints Commission alleging that the Officer Commanding of his detachment interfered with one of his investigations “by revealing privileged information”.

While investigating a complaint of sexual assault against a member of the Military Police the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigator learned that an anonymous letter containing other allegations against the Military Police member under investigation had been received at the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment.

After determining that the allegations in the letter were false, the investigator expanded his investigation in an attempt to discover the identity of the author of the letter, whom he believed could be charged with public mischief. The investigator was subsequently able to identify of the author of the letter (another member of the Military Police and a colleague of the member being investigated for sexual assault).

The investigator then met with the Officer Commanding of the Military Police detachment and informed him of the anonymous note but did not provide a copy of the note or any additional information to his superior on the grounds that the information was passed to him personally in response to his official request to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In fact, he did not inform the Officer Commanding that it was a Military Police member who was responsible for the note nor that the scope of his investigation had been enlarged to include other members of the detachment under the supervision of the Officer Commanding.

The Officer Commanding was upset that a letter containing allegations of misconduct against one of his subordinates had been sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and deduced that the letter had come from within his detachment. Shortly after his meeting with the investigator, the Officer Commanding sent an e-mail to all Military Police members under his command demanding that the author of the anonymous letter come forward and claim responsibility.

It is this e-mail that is the subject of the interference complaint.

The focus of the investigation was to determine whether the decision to send the e-mail constituted an improper intervention on the part of the Officer Commanding comparable to interference, intimidation or the abuse of authority as defined in section 250.19 of the National Defence Act.

Findings and Recommendations of the Chairperson of the Complaints Commission

The Chairperson found that although the Officer Commanding was aware of the follow-up being conducted by the investigator regarding the allegations made in the anonymous letter, he did not know that these allegations had already been proven false. He also did not know that the investigator had identified the author of the letter and was close to laying a charge of public mischief. In fact, he told the investigator from the Complaints Commission that had he known he would not have sent the e-mail in question.

After reviewing all of the information, the Chairperson found that there was no abuse of authority, intimidation or improper intervention in the investigation by the Officer Commanding. However, the Chairperson found that the Officer Commanding should have erred on the side of caution before disclosing information pertinent to an ongoing investigation and recommended that administrative concerns regarding an investigation should be held in abeyance until the investigation has been completed, unless an urgent situation dictates otherwise.

Response of the Chairperson following the Notice of Action of the Chief of Defence Staff

This unique interference complaint was the result of a communication breakdown between two Military Police members (the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigator and the Officer Commanding of the Military Police detachment). The Chairperson noted that there was reluctance on the part of these two people to cooperate with each other during the course of this investigation and strongly supported the direction of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards that both be counselled in this regard.

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