Monday, May 2, 2011

Ont. cops probe leak after Layton massage story breaks

TORONTO - The Ontario Provincial Police are launching a criminal breach of trust investigation into how Toronto Police notes were leaked, following a QMI Agency story involving NDP Leader Jack Layton.

Toronto Police confirm it made the request after the information involving Layton, who was found in a massage parlour allegedly connected with the sex trade in 1996, was attributed to notes from an unnamed former police officer.

"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," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said Saturday.

"They have assigned a detective inspector from their criminal investigative branch to head up their investigation. We will, of course, co-operate in every way."

The investigation launches following a complaint from Toronto human rights lawyer Selwyn Pieters to Blair and Toronto Police Services Board chairman Alok Mukherjee alleging the ex-cop's notes were used to blackmail the leader of a political party.

"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 memo book in the Toronto Sun that appears in the nature of attempting to blackmail a leader of a political party," Pieters wrote in a letter.

He included sections of the Police Service Act that states police can disclose personal information about an individual if the person has been convicted or found guilty of a crime and if the individual poses a threat to others.

He added memo books are the property of the police and should be given back when no longer in use.

"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 the law prevails," Pieters said. "The conduct in question appears, in my view to be unlawful."

Blair responded that while the former cop is no longer with the force, the issue remains important.

"We do, in fact, ensure compliance by those over whom we retain jurisdiction under the act," he said.

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