British Columbia

High-profile Victoria police chief quits, discipline hearing cancelled

The chief of Victoria's police department has resigned effective immediately under mysterious circumstances.

The chief of Victoria's police department has resigned effective immediately under mysterious circumstances.

Paul Battershill has been on paid administrative leave since last October and was facing a disciplinary hearing next Monday, but what prompted the leave has never been made public.

Mayor Alan Lowe said Wednesday that Battershill's resignation means the hearing has been cancelled. Lowe wouldn't give details about what's behind Battershill's departure.

"We are bound by the settlement agreement at this time," Lowe told a news conference. But he added: "I believe we had no other choice."

An RCMP investigation found no wrongdoing by Battershill, Lowe said, but an investigation under the Police Act by the B.C. Police Complaints Commission is still underway.

Battershill will receive $15,000 to cover his legal expenses but is getting no severance pay.

Deputy Chief Bill Naughton will remain as interim chief, Lowe said.

Battershill, a 20-year Vancouver city police veteran, became Victoria's chief constable in 1999. He was known for supporting innovative policing techniques and led high-profile reviews on the use of Taser stun guns by police and an investigation into alcohol-related incidents at the West Vancouver Police Department.

Police complaints commissioner Dirk Ryneveld ordered the RCMP to conduct an investigation under the Police Act but refused to disclose the reason.

The entire matter was under a news blackout until a sensitive legal document was leaked to the media last November.

Victoria lawyer David Mulroney said at the time he wrote a letter to the law firm that represents the police department suggesting possible conflicts of interest surrounding the police chief and his knowledge of freedom of information requests involving himself.

Mulroney said he represents a client who filed several freedom of information requests that name Battershill and suggested a link between his client's information request and the RCMP's investigation.

The access requests targeted four areas, including the Victoria police department's dismissals without cause, suspensions with pay, expense accounts and employment contracts involving pay equity.

One package of documents Mulroney's client received revealed Battershill had credit card expenses of more than $90,000 since 2004. The documents also show the city paid up to $600,000 in severance to former police department members and officials.

The request also asked for all expense and accounting records of the two high-profile reports compiled by Battershill. Mulroney has yet to receive those documents.

He asked for all expenses and accounts from the Taser Technology Review conducted by Battershill and its preliminary recommendations in September 2004.

It also asked for all expenses and accounts relating to Battershill's investigation of Const. Lisa Alford of the West Vancouver Police Department on behalf of the B.C. Police Complaints Commissioner.