Barrister, Solicitor and Notary Public
The hot topic on facebook, twitter and in the news media is the release of information in relation to the apparent encounter Mr. Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party, had with a member of the Toronto Police Service at a massage parlor in 1996. The information was leaked in an attempt to blackmail Mr. Layton, who is surging in the polls.
Today I wrote to the Chief of the Police Services Board stating, amongst other things that:
The Chief of Police, William Blair responded by email as follows:April 30, 2011 416-808-8082
Alok MukherjeeChairToronto Police Services Board40 College StreetToronto, Ontario, M5G 2J3
Dear Mr. Mukherjee:
Release of information regarding Jack Layton
I was appalled and distressed at the partisanship or the perception thereof of the Toronto Police Service entering the realm of the political sphere by releasing information quoted directly from a police officer’s memobook in the Toronto Sun that appears in the nature of attempting to blackmail a leader of a political party.
Disclosing personal information about a person who was not charged with a prostitution related offence challenges the presumption of innocence and stigmatizes the person in a way that is totally unacceptable in a society where the rule of law prevails.
There was no duty to warn in the circumstances here and Jack Layton was unfairly targeted.
Your civilian oversight agency is responsible for setting policy that guides the Toronto Police Service. Without attempting to be personal, this appears to be a failure on the part of the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police to preserve law enforcement information that should be confidential unless there is lawful authority for its release. Please point me to the authority the made releasing that information about Jack Layton in the public interest.
The conduct in question appears, in my view, to be unlawful.
An investigation should be launched, criminal charges should be laid against the person who improperly released that information and the supervisory officers who failed to ensure that the notebooks of Toronto Police Service, which is properly its property and not that of an officer should be held accountable.
Please confirm that you have a policy in place that is being enforced by the Chief of Police that all memobooks are turned in when it is no longer in use.
The Chair of the Police Services Board then wrote:From: William.Blair@torontopolice.on.ca [mailto:William.Blair@torontopolice.on.ca]
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 4:56 PM
Subject: Re: Jack Layton
Today, I made a formal request of the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct a Criminal Breach of Trust Investigation into this matter to determine if any offence has been committed. They have assigned a Detective Inspector from their Criminal Investigative Branch to head up their investigation.We will of course, cooperate in every way. It has been reported that the source of the information is a former Toronto Police Officer.
Thank you for your detailed explanation of those sections of the Police Services Act which pertain to the conduct of serving police officers, and to the release of information by a Police Service. Although of limited relevance in this matter, as the source is apparently not a serving memberof our Service, they remain important. We do, in fact ensure compliance by those over whom we retain jurisdiction under the Act.
William BlairChief of PoliceToronto Police Service
From: Alok.Mukherjee@tpsb.ca [mailto:Alok.Mukherjee@tpsb.ca]
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 5:11 PM
To: William.Blair@torontopolice.on.ca; selwyn
Cc: Lorrie Goldstein; Sam Pazzano
Subject: Re: Jack Layton
Thank you for copying me on your reply to Mr Pieters.....
I am satisfied with the response provided by you. I will reply on Monday.
The issue of safe custody of records is a significant one in order to ensure they are not misused. I believe you have already acted appropriately to deal with it.
The fact remains that the information came from someone who was appointed as a peace officer while employed by the Toronto Police Service.
For the Chief of Police to say that the law on the release of information is of "limited relevance in this matter" goes to the lack of control that organization has over its members and the public release of information. Memobboks are the property of the Toronto Police Service and not the individual member. All memobooks of officers that are no longer in use must be turned over to the service.
The Chief of Police of the Toronto Police Service's response is disappointing but not surprising.
In any event, it should be an independent civilian entity that should be investigating the allegations not the Ontario Provincial Police.
Layton confident voters will dismiss massage parlour 'smear campaign', Globe and Mail, April 30, 2011
Ont. cops probe leak after Layton massage story breaks CANOE, April 30, 2011
Sun Media uses parlour tricks to feign credibility Rabble
Police to Investigate Leak of Jack Layton's Massage Parlour Visit suite101, Arthur Weinrib