(CBC News) – The RCMP are using extraordinary measures to silence a critic who outed an officer posting naked bondage photos of himself online, according to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
Grant Wakefield says he and his wife were terrorized by police during a raid on their home this past August. The raid was executed after Wakefield provided police with evidence RCMP Cpl. Jim Brown had posted several bondage-type photos of himself on social media websites for people with sexual fetishes.
In some of the photos Brown was wearing RCMP riding boots while posed in sex acts with women in submissive positions. That eventually triggered a code of conduct investigation of Brown.
But after the story broke in the media in July, instead of searching Brown’s home, the RCMP turned their focus on Wakefield and obtained a 71- page search warrant alleging Brown was the victim of defamatory libel.
Using the warrant they raided Wakefield’s home and seized his computers and cellphones.
Now the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is accusing the RCMP of misusing their powers to silence critics.
BCCLA executive director David Eby points out any private citizen who has been defamed must sue in civil court, but only police can use the rare criminal charge of defamatory libel.
“They’re using this very rare provision, they’re using such extraordinary measures that we don’t see in other situations and he’s a critic of the RCMP, and we say it’s a fair question to ask,” said Eby.
Last month the RCMP did release a version of the information filed to obtain the search warrant, but significant parts of the information were blacked out on 55 of the 71 pages released.
Now Eby is asking the court to release an uncensored version of the document.
“The RCMP should be extra transparent in a situation like that and instead they’re being extra secretive,” said Eby.
Both the CBC and the Vancouver Sun newspaper were also in court this week seeking the release of the full document, arguing the case begs for public scrutiny as to whether the RCMP acted appropriately.
What the censored version of the information used to obtain the search warrant does reveal is that Wakefield was working with the RCMP to provide photos and information to police about Brown’s online activities and photos posted on sexual fetish websites.
But then after Brown’s activities were revealed in the media, the investigators turned their attention to Wakefield, accusing him of defamatory libel after he posted comments and tweets critical of Brown and the RCMP on a Twitter account that had only 13 followers.
The document says many of the online comments and tweets alleging criminal and other inappropriate behaviour by Brown are false.
It also says as of August there was no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing by Brown, but there was new evidence of professional misconduct.
Specifically, it says a woman came forward to complain about an encounter with Brown while he was on duty in his police car, and that they went to her home, and he returned to work after a two-hour lunch break. But details of the encounter and the alleged misconduct are all blacked out.
The document also says a third code of conduct investigation was launched after an inspector found a CD full of sexually explicit photos of Brown in the officer’s briefcase along with condoms and handcuffs in July.
The document says RCMP senior management was aware of the explicit sexual photos of Brown back in 2010 but chose not to proceed with any discipline.
The investigations continue, but so far no one has been charged in the case and there have been no findings of misconduct against Brown.