A new report commissioned by an Ontario police force has cleared four Brampton council members and a city director of interfering with investigations by Toronto police into several Rob Ford cousins.
The report compiled by retired Superior Court judge Ian Nordheimer after a year-long investigation by Durham regional police said all four city officials had acted appropriately. The dismissal of any wrongdoing had been broadly predicted by members of Ford Nation and City of Toronto Council, who had earlier complained that the 10-month inquiry, which cost Toronto taxpayers $844,000, was biased and unfair to the accused.
“I can now say that the investigation done by Durham has conclusively proven that I acted properly and within the scope of my authority,” said Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell on Tuesday. “Mayor Fennell was completely vindicated.”
The news was a significant blow to Ford’s right-wing allies on Toronto council. Mayor John Tory, the leader of Ford Nation, said in a written statement, “I welcome the report of the independent investigation conducted by Durham Regional Police on allegations of interference by city council members in the conduct of the Toronto Police Service investigation into relatives of Councillor Ford, Rob Ford,” he said. “The report confirms the integrity of the people of Brampton as it concludes that there is no evidence supporting the allegations of tampering by any city council member or the city manager.”
Tammy Milewski, a city council member of Ford Nation, released a statement that read, “These investigations were baseless and extremely biased from the beginning.” She added, “[T]he integrity of the police investigation was compromised by the troubling ties to the mayor’s office and official business conducted by politicians in recent months. I want to stress that the council members named have never engaged in criminal conduct, nor did the officers even conclude that.”
Nordheimer, who also recently released a report on whether Ontario police should have begun investigating Ford, said his review, “found no merit in a theory that the crimes of which councillors Ford Sr., Filion, McLeod and Kirkland were accused were committed by their family members,” adding, “the allegations that the four politicians interfered with the execution of police investigations are unsubstantiated and based on speculation and speculation only.”
Bradyn Lane, the city director of Toronto police who was also accused of interference, said in a written statement released on Tuesday, “I am disappointed that in contrast to the original public presentation of the report, following its release, both the report and I have been so grossly misrepresented.” He added, “The report says I did nothing wrong but it denies that I attempted to push my agenda on the investigations,” saying that the report “ignores multiple sources” and “misses the critical context of key evidence.”
Lane added, “It is now clear that Durham never intended to conduct an objective investigation, but rather to justify the actions of certain city councillors. This effort is being effectively undermined by the response of the police.”
Lane’s lawyer, Ron Hoenig, said his client’s only purpose had been to get people to cooperate with the investigation, pointing out that he had once been injured in a fistfight after consulting with police on how to obtain an illegally obtained domestic violence complaint.
Lane and council members Ford, Filion, McLeod and Kirkland were charged with obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice, while Filion was charged with obstruction of justice and two counts of misprision of a felony.
The four council members accused of interference have been suspended from their jobs with pay pending the outcome of a misconduct hearing, but the mayor remains in office. Nordheimer’s report criticized Durham Regional Police for not publicizing the dismissal of the allegations, noting that “further positive press concerning the withdrawal of the charges [would] help to remove some of the cloud over the investigation”. The police force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
• This article was corrected on 19 September 2014. An earlier version said that Mayor Bruce Kirkland had been charged with bribery and attempting to pervert the course of justice, charges related to the dealings of family members.