B.C. rights advocates demand probe of RCMP operation
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is demanding an investigation by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP into the force’s entire operation against a whistleblower who informed on an officer’s posting of bondage photos on the internet.
The BCCLA said new information in unsealed court documents reveal that the RCMP marshalled apparently disproportionate resources in its investigation of New Westminster, B.C., resident Grant Wakefield, who drew the RCMP’s attention to the photos posted by Port Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Jim Brown.
Wakefield also later helped disgruntled members of the force air some of their concerns about RCMP management in a blog called "Re-Sergence Alliance."
"We’re asked to believe the RCMP used the resources of their major crime section, computer forensics team, the Federal Department of Justice, and a search warrant, to investigate what amounts to conspiracy theories posted in the comment section of an erotic blog and a Twitter account with 13 followers," said BCCLA executive director David Eby Tuesday.
"Defamatory comments are made every day on the internet, and the RCMP doesn’t send their major crime team to investigate. What makes this case unique is that the man who had his computers taken away by the police was using those computers to help unhappy RCMP members publish their concerns online."
On Monday, lawyers for BCCLA and media outlets, including the CBC, won court approval to unseal secret information used to get a search warrant against Wakefield.
A judge ruled that RCMP investigators were not justified in sealing the warrant they had used in the search, based on the accusation that Wakefield had criminally defamed Brown.
During the search of Wakefield's home, RCMP officers seized computers and cellphones.
The unsealed information included details of death threats Wakefield reported to New Westminster police that he believes came from the Coquitlam RCMP detachment.
Wakefield has not been charged. The RCMP has said it is holding a code of conduct investigation into Brown’s activities.
With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy