Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A. G. must address concerns over police testimony

The recent announcement by the Attorney General of Ontario to conduct an inquiry into police lying under oath in criminal trials is long overdue. Over the years a number of judges have in fact made such findings in their judgments. The fact that the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario or any other ministry does not have any rules or procedures to prosecute officers for such conduct is unacceptable and inconsistent with the rule of law and the Charter. Some years ago I defended an individual in a criminal proceeding who testified at a bail hearing to having worked at a particualr place and the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario took decisive action in followng-up on that testimony and ultimately laying a charge of perjury. While it is true that a judicial finding of fact in the absence of other corroborating evidence will not necessarily support grounds for perjury or fabricating evidence, it is clear to me that there is currently a lack of interest in prosecuting such cases when they involve police officers. This is not right. If the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario is serious about this issue they need to take the following action: 1. Expand the jurisdiction of the SIU or a similar body to investigate such claims; and 2. Establish and publish a policy requiring their prosecutors to act on such claims. Note: This piece is written for the sole purpose drawing attention to an issue of public importance.

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