A public inquiry into the Lethbridge Police Service has been requested after two people received whistleblower letters that allegedly suggest possible retaliation measures against Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips and a member of the media.
Calgary defence lawyer Michael Bates represents Phillips and another Lethbridge resident.
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His two clients received the letters in June and in a submission to the Lethbridge Police Commission (LPC) on Wednesday, Bates said: “In one of the disclosures, there’s a suggestion of a potential planned retaliation against a named member of the professional media, as well as a sitting Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, for what can be inferred as having sought public accountability of the Lethbridge Police Service.”
Phillips’ constituency office confirmed she was the MLA Bates was referring to.
Phillips was the subject of unauthorized police surveillance by LPS officers in 2017, when she was the NDP environment minister.
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Bates is requesting a public inquiry to determine how Lethbridge police deal with whistleblowers and to answer several questions about alleged police misconduct within the LPS.
“My first question for the commission would be: does the commission have any policies or policing standards which direct the chief of police to protect citizens, or members of the media in particular, who are seeking public accountability, from potential retaliation against them from members of the Lethbridge Police Service?” Bates asked the commission on Wednesday.
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In a written response to questions posed by Global News, Bates said he hopes to determine the accuracy of the letters, adding he wants to see “a forum within which those who have first-hand knowledge can be free to testify so that an independent inquiry commission(er) can determine the validity of any of the whistleblower disclosures.”
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“The Lethbridge Police Commission takes seriously the allegation raised in the letters and will be reviewing the request for a public hearing as well as the accompanying questions (Bates) asked,” commission chair Rob van Spronsen said in a statement to Global News.
The commission will be discussing the matter at its next scheduled meeting on Oct. 27.
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