Nfld. & Labrador

Sherry Gambin-Walsh will not face charges after RCMP investigation

The former minister of Service NL will not be charged with breach of trust or any other charges related to an investigation into leaking information from the cabinet table.

RNC officer Paul Didham also cleared in breach of trust investigation

Acting Insp. Paul Didham and Sherry Gambin-Walsh were the subjects of a warrant granted on April 2, to seize their phones as part of an RCMP investigation. (CBC)

Sherry Gambin-Walsh, the former minister of Service NL, will not be charged with breach of trust or any other charges related to an investigation into leaking information from Newfoundland and Labrador's cabinet table.

RCMP Sgt. Adam Palmer said Wednesday that information related to the appointments of senior police officers was leaked by a private cellphone.

While it had the potential for criminal charges, Palmer says nobody benefited from the situation and the decision was made not to lay charges.

"While the investigation confirmed that the contents of a confidential cabinet document were shared, after reviewing all of the evidence and taking into consideration the elements required to obtain a conviction, the decision was made to not pursue criminal charges," Palmer said.

It was alleged Gambin-Walsh leaked information to Paul Didham, a senior police officer with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Palmer said the two appeared to be friends.

The criminal complaint was lodged by Didham's boss, RNC Chief Joe Boland.

RCMP Sgt. Adam Palmer says 41 people were interviewed for the investigation, and all complied. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Palmer said the RCMP consulted senior Crown prosecutors in Nova Scotia, who said they wouldn't suggest pursuing charges since there was a low prospect of conviction, especially given that an essential element of the charge is examining how someone benefited from the act.

The province's Serious Incident Response Team — an independent police watchdog — released a statement on Wednesday saying it reviewed the RCMP's investigation into Didham and approved its findings. 

"Investigators took all investigative steps appropriate in the circumstances," wrote SIRT director Mike King. "There was no evidence of bias, tunnel vision or lack of objectivity on the part of the investigating agency."

Premier Andrew Furey was not commenting on the report Wednesday afternoon, as his communications staff said he was being briefed on the report this evening. 

No charges, but still no cabinet position

Gambin-Walsh was removed from her job as minister of Service NL on April 4 after informing Premier Dwight Ball she was under investigation by the RCMP.

Ball said at the time it was related to a "breach of cabinet confidences," but no further details were released.

Little was known about the investigation, other than that a judge signed a warrant in April to seize the cellphones of Gambin-Walsh and Didham.

CBC News filed an application at provincial court in April to unseal documents the police used to convince a judge to issue the warrant. Those documents would have outlined more details of the RCMP investigation, but given cancellations and delays in the early days of the pandemic, it was set over.

That matter is due back in court on Oct. 9.

Didham, who was promoted to an acting inspector role before the investigation began, wanted the information to be released. He retained former justice minister Jerome Kennedy as his lawyer.

Didham's status with the RNC has been unknown since April, when the force refused to provide any information on the investigation. (CBC)

Didham's employment status with the RNC has been unclear since the investigation began, as the force declined comment.

He was named the constabulary's best officer in 2016, and was often a public figure for the RNC's traffic division.

Gambin-Walsh remains part of the Liberal caucus, but was not reinstated to a cabinet position when Andrew Furey took over as premier. 

She has said from the beginning that she is innocent, and that she voluntarily removed herself from cabinet.

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