Beamish Public Interest Investigation (MPCC‑2016‑040) – Homepage

Military Police Complaints Commission releases Final Report in Public Interest Investigation into allegations of torture and abuse of former CAF members

Ottawa August 31, 2021 – Following a Public Interest Investigation, the Military Police Complaints Commission has found that a Military Police (MP) conduct complaint regarding the adequacy of a Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) into historical allegations of torture and abuse of former members of the Canadian Armed Forces are not substantiated.

The allegations were made by a participant in training exercises at the Infantry Battle School at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Wainwright between October 1983 and March 1984. The complainant, Jeffry Beamish, alleged that he and 32 other recruits were stripped naked, placed in small prison cells and sprayed repeatedly with cold water while the window to the cells was kept open during sub-zero temperatures in February. They were also subjected to interrogation under a cold shower that went on for several hours.

The recruits were denied access to food or drink, as well as sanitary and toilet facilities. Mr. Beamish and a number of the former trainees have stated that they now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the exercise.

The complaint was filed with the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) in December 2016. Following a preliminary review of material related to the case, MPCC Chairperson Hilary C. McCormack decided to conduct a Public Interest Investigation (PII) into the complaint in April 2018.

Aside from the allegations of torture and abuse, Mr. Beamish also made four other allegations related to the CFNIS lead investigator’s handling of the initial investigation. The PII determined that all five allegations were unsubstantiated, however the MPCC made five recommendations designed to improve military police investigations and oversight.

The MPCC interviewed 40 witnesses during its investigation, which found that the training exercise took place, more or less as alleged by the complainant. The investigation determined that the exercise was not an officially authorized part of the Battle School training and that it was not in keeping with basic infantry training standards at the time.

The PII determined that a Regional Military Prosecutor advised the CFNIS that charges under the Code of Service Discipline of the National Defence Act would not be possible because of the statute of limitations in force at the time of the exercise. Subsequently, a provincial Crown Attorney in Alberta advised the CFNIS that the case also lacked a reasonable prospect of conviction on charges under the Criminal Code.

“This means that, even if there is some evidence to support the elements of a chargeable offence, the chances of actually proving the case are such that it is not worth the expenditure of judicial resources of proceeding with the case,” said Ms. McCormack. “It does not mean that the prosecutor disagrees that the facts, as alleged, occurred,” she said in releasing the 115 page report. The CFNIS did not pursue the investigation or lay charges after receiving the advice of the provincial crown.

In its Final Report, the Commission made three recommendations to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) and two to the Minister of National Defence that address a range of issues, including:

The CFPM has fully accepted two of the three MPCC recommendations addressed to him; while partially accepting the third. At this time, the Commission continues to await a response from the Minister of National Defence to the two recommendations addressed to that office. The Commission intends to re-issue its report once the response from the Minister is received.

“It is hoped that this investigation, in as much as it has vindicated the complainant’s memory and viewpoint, will help to provide him and the other victims with some closure to what was clearly a traumatic event,” said Ms. McCormack. “The criminal justice system is an imperfect institution and one that is not designed for obtaining personal validation or vindication for victims. This is especially true for those who seek recourse after the passage of many years.”

Contact:

Michael Tansey
Communications Advisor
Military Police Complaints Commission
Cell: 613‑851‑4587
Tel: 613‑487‑3765
www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca

Timeline

Beamish Public Interest Investigation Timeline
Date Event
August 31, 2021 Final Report following a public interest investigation | Available in PDF format only (954 KB)
June 4, 2021 Interim Report setting out the MPCC’s findings and recommendations with respect to the complaint issued to the MND, the CDS, the JAG and the CFPM.
January 28, 2021 Chairperson approves Investigation Assessment Report. Drafting of the MPCC’s Interim Report commences.
November 9, 2020 Investigation Assessment Report submitted to the Commission Chairperson for review and deliberation, with a view to the preparation of the MPCC’s Interim Report to the CF Provost Marshal.
October 6, 2020 MPCC investigative team completes final witness interview. The team proceeds with the preparation of an Investigation Assessment Report.
July 20, 2020 Final response from CFPM to request for search for additional MP records initially requested on January 16, 2019: CFPM unable to access further such records
May 29, 2020 Letter sent to CFPM providing further details on request for search for additional MP records, further to previous letters of January 16, 2019, April 25, 2019 and January 27, 2020.
May 20, 2020 In-person witness interviews resume, with appropriate safety precautions in place
Mid-March 2020 With the implementation of emergency measures in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, some witness interviews which had been scheduled to be conducted in person had to be cancelled and rescheduled, due to restrictions on travel and on interpersonal contact. Other interviews proceeded by telephone. The emergency situation also slowed the processing of disclosure requests.
January 27, 2020 Letter sent to CFPM to narrow scope of search for additional MP records relative to disclosure request of January 16 and April 25, 2019
January 8, 2020 Response to disclosure request of December 16, 2019 received from Canadian Army Doctrine & Training Centre.
December 16, 2019 Request for disclosure of further information and materials sent to CFPM.
October 9, 2019 Disclosure of the information and documents requested on September 6, 2019 provided to the Commission by the CF MP Group
September 10, 2019 Portion of the materials requested in the Commission's January 16 and April 25, 2019 letters provided to the Commission by the CF MP Group. Information also provided to the Commission about searches being conducted to locate additional materials
September 6, 2019 Request sent to the CFPM for disclosure of additional information and materials
April 25, 2019 Letter sent to the CF MP Group reiterating the Commission’s January 16, 2019 request to have Military Police records searched to locate additional relevant materials
April 25, 2019 CFNIS member involved in supervising the CFNIS investigation identified as an additional subject of the complaint and notified by the Commission
April 5, 2019 Disclosure of a portion of the documents requested on January 16, 2019 provided to the Commission by the CF MP Group
April 1, 2019 Letter received from the CF MP Group advising that no records were found in response to the Commission’s disclosure request of December 13, 2018
March 29, 2019 Letter received from the CF MP Group providing information in response to the Commission’s January 17, 2019 request for disclosure
January 17, 2019 Request sent to the CFPM for disclosure of additional information and materials
January 16, 2019 Letter sent to the CF MP Group requesting that Military Police records be searched to locate additional relevant materials, further to the receipt by the Commission of documents provided by the complainant
January 11, 2019 Letter received from the CF MP Group advising that no records were found in response to the Commission’s disclosure request of December 10, 2018
December 20, 2018 Disclosure of the documents requested on December 4, 2018 provided to the Commission by the CAF
December 13, 2018 Request sent to the CFPM for disclosure of additional DND/CAF records believed to be relevant to the PII
December 10, 2018 Request sent to the CFPM for disclosure of additional Military Police records
December 4, 2018 Disclosure request sent to the CAF for access to documents relevant to the PII
November 28, 2018 Witness interviews begin
November 15, 2018 Disclosure of the documents requested on October 3, 2018 provided to the Commission by the CFPM
October 3, 2018 Request for additional disclosure sent to the CFPM
September 5, 2018 Investigative assessment and plan approved by the Commission Chairperson
April 11, 2018 Decision to conduct a public interest investigation
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