Fredericton Police chief hands over LeBlanc file

Frdericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight has handed the Charles LeBlanc file over to the city's top official and asked to be kept at arm's length from any future investigations or inquiries.

Barry MacKnight says process must be viewed as 'credible and beyond reproach'

Fredericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight has handed the Charles LeBlanc file over to the city’s top official and asked to be kept at arm’s length from any future investigations or inquiries.

MacKnight said any review or inquiry must be independent and the process must be viewed "as credible and beyond reproach."

"I have handed this whole issue over to the city administrator with the request that I be kept at arm’s length from all the decisions around it, with my role restricted to facilitating access to whatever records  may be required by the person conducting the review, and to whatever police staff they would like to interview," MacKnight said.

Chris MacPherson, the city's chief administrative officer, issued a statement on Thursday saying he will determine the appropriate next steps in the LeBlanc file.

He will make further details available by the end of May, he said in the statement.

It is not clear whether the LeBlanc case will be reviewed by an individual or whether a public inquiry will be held.

The police chief said when the review or public inquiry is finished, he would like the public to have a "clear understanding of all the relevant facts, and confidence that the process was honest and complete."

Fredericton social activist and blogger Charles LeBlanc had his computer seized in January and was informed he would be facing charges of criminal defamation.

Attorney General Marie-Claude Blais issued a statement last week saying the case against LeBlanc would not proceed.

LeBlanc, his lawyer and others in the legal community have called for a public inquiry into the matter.

A public inquiry would need to be approved by the premier.

So far, Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside has said he would like an independent review of the LeBlanc file.

Earlier in the week, MacKnight said he would pick an individual to conduct a review of the force's handling of the LeBlanc file. But that decision faced immediate criticism, a fact the police chief admitted on Thursday.

"While it was my intention to choose someone who the public would see as credible and independent, questions have been raised that suggest the very fact I would be the one reaching out to whoever does the review has the appearance of a conflict of interest," MacKnight said in a statement.

The review, the police chief said, is important to "clear the air over suggestions that our motivations and actions were less than professional."