West Kelowna’s top cop is involved in an RCMP apology – several years in the making.
Nearly six years after the former administration manager of the White Rock RCMP was banned from the premises of the Pacific Avenue detachment for alleged breaches of procedure, policy and security, B.C.’s top cop has apologized for the actions of the RCMP.
Including the actions of Staff Sgt. Lesli Roseberry, who took over the West Kelowna detachment in April 2016.
In a statement couriered to our sister paper, the Peace Arch News, E Division Deputy Cmsr. Craig Callens describes allegations made in an RCMP document that was provided to the City of White Rock in 2011 regarding the conduct of then-city-employee Jordan Murray-Wahl as “unfounded.”
“On behalf of the Royal Canadian Mountain (sic) Police, I offer my sincere apology to Ms. Murray-Wahl for any damage to her reputation or any stress, anxiety or loss of income or reputation that she has suffered as a result of the actions of the RCMP prior to and following the provision of the document to the City of White Rock,” Callens states.
Wednesday, Murray-Wahl’s lawyer Kevin Woodall confirmed the apology was part of settlement discussions that made trial – which had been scheduled to get underway Feb. 14 – unnecessary.
He said that Callens delivering a face-to-face apology to Murray-Wahl also “fully renewed” his client’s confidence in the RCMP.
“Her faith in the organization was shattered to the core by what happened to her in 2011,” Woodall said, noting the apology “firmly set aside” any doubts Murray-Wahl had with regard to the Mounties’ willingness to acknowledge the wrongdoing.
“She is pleased that the allegations that were made against her and that were in part published in your story… have been definitively laid to rest.”
Peace Arch News reported in June 2011 that the city had received word from then-detachment commander Staff Sgt. Lesli Roseberry on April 7 of that year advising that in the view of the RCMP, Murray-Wahl had been “deemed unsuitable to continue work at the detachment,” and would not be allowed to enter the premises.
The decision – detailed in a document Callens notes was “intended to remain confidential” – followed an RCMP investigation that began in December 2010 and allegedly identified breaches dating back to at least April of that year.
In his statement dated Feb. 6, Callens said the RCMP document “contained language that could lead the reader to draw negative conclusions about Ms. Murray-Wahl and her character.”
“Upon further investigation, the RCMP has determined that the allegations contained in the document were unfounded and constitute an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of Ms. Murray-Wahl. Throughout her tenure at the White Rock Detachment she conducted herself professionally and with integrity.”
Murray-Wahl, 52, filed a civil suit in April 2013, seeking general, special, aggravated and punitive damages in connection with the matter, which she said resulted in the termination of her position with the city in September 2011.
The notice of claim, finalized last Dec. 5, names Roseberry, Callens, Chief Supt. Janice Armstrong, Assistant Cmsr. Norman Lipinski and the attorneys general of B.C. and Canada.
Among other things, it alleged Roseberry, Armstrong, Lipinski and Callens breached their public duties, resulting in Murray-Wahl’s loss of employment, loss of security clearance, loss of reputation and loss of career, as well as prolonged stress and anguish.
Roseberry, it states, launched an investigation into Murray-Wahl based on unreliable information and without lawful authority. Murray-Wahl’s “right to a fair process was subverted by Roseberry’s deliberate abuse of her powers as a public officer,” the claim states.
As well, it alleges Roseberry intended for the document in question to be leaked, or failed to secure it, and as a result it was provided to the Peace Arch News.
A response to the civil claim filed in April 2014 and amended last August states Roseberry acted within her authority, and denies “that any action on the part of the defendants… constitute dishonesty, gross negligence or malicious or willful misconduct.”
“The defendants say that any actions taken by them or any RCMP member were taken in good faith and within the course and scope of their duties as RCMP members and provincial constables.”
Neither Callens nor Roseberry, who took the helm of the West Kelowna RCMP detachment last year, responded to Peace Arch News’s request for comment by press time.
In a letter to Peace Arch News that accompanied the released statement, Callens writes that he wants to “set the record straight.”
A reference letter included with the package aims “to counteract any possible negative conclusions and inform the reader that Ms. Murray-Wahl is a hard-working, dedicated employee who the RCMP is prepared to have working within the organization.”
Woodall said his client’s settlement included “fair and substantial” financial compensation. (The court documents also note that Murray-Wahl received damages from the city in connection with her termination.)
Woodall added that Callens was also “very generous” in assisting Murray-Wahl in applying for a position with the Surrey RCMP – a job she was awarded.
He said that while the case sets no legal precedents due to it being settled out of court, it provides “a tangible sign to the commitment of the RCMP” regarding preventing and redressing harassment and bullying claims.
“This result is an illustration of the RCMP’s renewed commitment to its anti-harassment and bullying policy,” Woodall said.