Fynes Public Interest Hearing - List of Allegations
This complaint relates to the conduct of CFNIS members in their interactions with the complainants (Mr. Shaun Fynes and Mrs. Sheila Fynes) in response to their concerns following the death of their son, Cpl Stuart Langridge, on March 15, 2008. The complaint also relates to the conduct of the following three investigations by CFNIS:
- The 2008 Sudden Death investigation;
- The 2009 investigation into alleged service offences committed in designating the Primary Next-of-Kin (PNOK); and
- The 2010 Criminal Negligence investigation.
The allegations made by the complainants have been grouped in three categories, based on the type of issues complained about.
Allegations Relating to Independence and Impartiality
- 1. The NIS investigations were not conducted in an independent and impartial manner. NIS lacks the independence, on a structural level, to conduct such investigations.
- 2. The 2008, 2009 and 2010 investigations were aimed at exonerating the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) regiment (LDSH) Chain of Command and the Canadian Forces (CF) more generally of any responsibility for their failure to prevent Cpl Langridge’s death and for the manner in which the complainants were subsequently treated.
- 3. The 2008 Sudden Death investigation report contained findings that were inaccurate, that the investigator was not qualified to make, and that were aimed at attacking Cpl Langridge’s character and exonerating CF members of any wrongdoing or liability.
- 4. The 2008 Sudden Death investigation was overly intrusive in light of its initial aim of determining the cause of death. Obtaining and including in the file Cpl Langridge’s medical records was unnecessary for this purpose.
- 5. When they did start to examine the issue of the underlying causes of Cpl Langridge’s suicide in the 2008 investigation, NIS investigators failed to pursue this examination in a complete and unbiased manner. The investigators were selective in the information they obtained and included, and their selection was not objective or impartial. The conclusions drawn by the investigators were based on incomplete facts which contained numerous contradictions and discrepancies.
- 6. The NIS investigators in the 2008 Sudden Death investigation met with CF members from the LDSH regiment prior to attending the scene. They were influenced by these meetings and discussions and this tainted the remainder of their investigation.
- 7. NIS members involved in the conduct of the 2008 Sudden Death investigation provided inaccurate information to the Alberta Medical Examiner (ME) about whether Cpl Langridge was the subject of disciplinary action in the CF. This resulted in an inaccurate mention on the ME certificate that Cpl Langridge had “
disciplinary issues.” NIS refused to make any attempt to have this inaccuracy corrected.
- 8. The NIS and its members made inaccurate statements about where Cpl Langridge was residing immediately prior to his death. Those statements were aimed at exonerating the LDSH Chain of command of any responsibility and were examples of NIS participation in broader efforts by the CF to exonerate themselves from any responsibility.
- 9. NIS members commented, during a meeting with the complainants, that a statement made by their Assisting Officer indicating that the complainants were “
deceived, misled and intentionally marginalized in their dealings with DND and the CF” was likely the result of Stockholm syndrome. This demonstrated a previously-held view by NIS members that any views critical of the CF must be wrong. Such views prevented NIS members from conducting independent investigations into the actions of CF members.
- 10. NIS agreed to participate in an intended briefing that was offered to the complainants by the CF and that was to include information about the CF Board of Inquiry, as well as about the CFNIS investigations. NIS failed to preserve its independence by failing to ensure that its police investigations were kept separate and distinct from other internal CF processes.
- 11. NIS participated in broader CF efforts to provide explanations and justifications in response to the complainants’ concerns, instead of conducting independent investigations in response to those concerns.
- 12. Concerns raised by the complainants in discussions with CFNIS members (particularly, concerns about damages to Cpl Langridge’s vehicle while in CF custody) were discussed by NIS members with non-MP members of the CF (in particular, Land Forces Western Area). This was done for the purpose of participating in CF efforts to explain and justify their actions and not for the purpose of conducting an independent investigation.
- 13. NIS and its members failed to provide adequate and timely information to the complainants. NIS participated in broader Canadian Forces efforts to withhold information from the complainants. NIS members allowed non-MP members of the CF, including CF legal advisers, to influence or dictate their decisions about the type of information provided to the complainants and the manner in which this information would be provided. NIS members allowed a broader CF concern over potential litigation between the complainants and the CF to dictate or influence their decisions about the information to be provided to the complainants and the manner in which that information would be provided. In particular:
- NIS improperly withheld information from the complainants about its 2008 Sudden Death investigation by providing a copy of the report which contained numerous redactions having no justification in law or privacy protection. The complainants were provided with an incomplete file with no specific or satisfactory explanation for withholding information.
- NIS members failed to provide regular updates to the complainants as promised. Communication was irregular and contained unexplained gaps of many months.
- NIS acquiesced and participated in an effort by the CF to prevent the complainants from communicating with CF members. The complainants received a letter advising them that, in light of anticipated litigation, they were not to communicate directly with any member of the CF. No exception was made to allow the complainants to communicate with the NIS members investigating their complaints and NIS members in fact did not contact the complainants during this period.
- NIS cancelled a planned verbal briefing on the 2009 and 2010 investigations that was to be provided to the complainants. This decision was made because the complainants requested that their lawyer attend the briefing as an observer. In cancelling a briefing about the police investigations because of potential litigation between the complainants and the CF, the NIS failed to act independently.
- The written briefing provided to the complainants by NIS in May 2011 in replacement for the planned verbal briefing did not contain sufficient information to answer the complainants’ questions.
Allegations Relating to Insufficient Investigation or Failure to Investigate
- 14. The investigations conducted by CFNIS were inadequate. The investigations failed to properly address the issues to be investigated. NIS members failed to investigate other issues, and failed to provide an appropriate response to the complainants with respect to the concerns they specifically brought to their attention.
- 15. NIS failed to properly investigate in a timely manner the potential criminal or service offences committed by members of the LDSH Chain of Command and other CF members prior to Cpl Langridge’s death. Conduct requiring further investigation, follow-up and analysis was uncovered during the 2008 investigation and was specifically brought to the attention of the NIS by the complainants. This conduct was not adequately investigated.
- 16. NIS failed to investigate the potential service offences committed by CF members in the application of (or failure to apply) suicide prevention policies in Cpl Langridge’s case. NIS failed to investigate what policies were applicable and whether they were followed. In particular, NIS failed to investigate whether a requirement existed for the CF to conduct a Summary Investigation for each instance of attempted suicide by a member and whether this was in fact done in Cpl Langridge’s case.
- 17. In the conduct of the 2008 Sudden Death investigation and the subsequent 2010 Criminal Negligence investigation, NIS members failed to conduct the necessary follow-up and analysis to resolve conflicts and discrepancies in the information obtained, including in relation to the alleged “
suicide watch” (or lack thereof) conducted prior to Cpl Langridge’s death.
- 18. The activity undertaken by the NIS investigators in the 2008 Sudden Death investigation had no clearly defined and understood purpose. NIS investigators failed to produce a report that provided a satisfactory explanation for the issues they undertook to investigate. NIS failed to provide clarity for its own personnel and for the complainants about what those issues were.
- 19. NIS failed to properly investigate in a timely manner the potential service offences committed by members of the CF in designating Cpl Langridge’s former partner as next-of-kin. Facts requiring further investigation, follow-up and analysis were specifically brought to the attention of the NIS by the complainants and were not adequately investigated, including facts relating to CF interactions with the funeral director and with the complainants about the Registration of Death documents and facts relating to Cpl Langridge’s missing paperwork located after his death.
- 20. In the conduct of the 2009 PNOK investigation, NIS members failed to investigate the actual issue that they had been asked to investigate: whether service offences were committed in appointing Cpl Langridge’s former common law partner as next-of-kin for purposes of arranging the funeral. By focussing only on whether or not Cpl Langridge’s former partner still qualified as his common law spouse under CF policies, NIS members failed to answer the actual question brought to them for investigation.
- 21. NIS failed to investigate or refer to the police of competent jurisdiction for investigation the potential criminal or service offences committed by Cpl Langridge’s former partner and the two CF members who accompanied her during her visit to the funeral director. Conduct which required further investigation, follow-up and analysis (including conduct which may have amounted to fraud in the provision of false information for the purpose of obtaining benefits) was specifically brought to the attention of the NIS by the complainants and was not adequately investigated.
- 22. NIS failed to investigate, follow up, or provide a response to the complainants with respect to the concerns they raised about how Cpl Langridge’s vehicle was damaged while in CF custody.
- 23. NIS failed to investigate, follow up or provide a response to the complainants with respect to the concerns they raised about damage done to Cpl Langridge’s blackberry and computer while in NIS and CF custody.
- 24. NIS failed to investigate, follow up or provide a response to the complainants with respect to the concerns they raised about the information they obtained from Rogers telephone indicating that someone was accessing the internet from Cpl Langridge’s blackberry after his death.
Allegations Relating to Professionalism and Competence
- 25. The CFNIS members involved in the investigations lacked the necessary skills, professionalism and competence to conduct these investigations and to resolve the issues brought to their attention by the complainants.
- 26. NIS failed to advise the complainants of the existence of a suicide note left for them by Cpl Langridge and failed to provide the note until many months after Cpl Langridge’s death and after the investigation was concluded. NIS never came forward to reveal the existence of the note, which was learned by the complainants through other means. Once the complainants were advised, NIS failed to send the original note until the complainants made a specific request.
- 27. NIS members failed to promptly cut down Cpl Langridge and show respect for his body once they arrived at the scene.
- 28. NIS failed to dispose of the seized exhibits when closing the Sudden Death investigation in July 2008 and failed to have the items returned to the complainants in a timely manner.
- 29. NIS members failed to complete the 2009 PNOK and the 2010 Criminal Negligence investigations within a reasonable time.
- 30. NIS members failed to provide their written briefing within a reasonable time after the verbal briefing on the 2009 and 2010 investigations was cancelled in February 2011.
- 31. The NIS members involved in the investigations lacked the experience and training necessary to perform these investigations. They did not appear to have knowledge of the appropriate steps to take and appeared paralysed in any ability to take initiative.
- 32. NIS reports contained inaccurate factual statements. In particular:
- The 2008 investigation report contained incorrect facts, including an account of a suicide attempt and hospitalization of Cpl Langridge, whereas hospital records show he was not hospitalized during this period and the MP making the statement took no notes about the incident. The inaccurate factual statements were not re-examined by NIS members when the complainants brought new facts to their attention.
- The written briefing for the 2009 and 2010 investigations incorrectly stated that both of the investigations had been opened at the request of the complainants.
- The statement in the 2009 investigation written briefing that the NDA trumps all provincial law was inaccurate.
- 33. Inaccurate rationales were provided by NIS members to explain or justify the actions taken by NIS. In particular:
- NIS members, during a meeting with the complainants, justified the NIS decision not to provide the suicide note sooner on the basis that it had to be kept in case of appeals.
- NIS members inaccurately stated that the responsibility for failing to promptly cut down Cpl Langridge’s body rested with the Alberta Medical Examiner.
- NIS members took the position that it was not their responsibility if the ME overheard things during the processing of the scene and made his inaccurate comment about the disciplinary issues on that basis.
- NIS members advised the complainants that, under MP policies, they were allowed to retain the exhibits for a period of one year to provide for an appeal period.
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