'No choice': RNC officer threatens lawsuit after latest probe into conduct

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'No choice': RNC officer threatens lawsuit after latest probe into conduct

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer at the heart of numerous reviews and investigations says he's exploring his legal options after another probe was announced Thursday.

Sgt. Tim Buckle, the officer who spoke to Const. Sean Kelly when that officer was being investigated for indecent phone calls and public mischief, said in a statement Thursday that he was considering a lawsuit.

"This latest announcement … has left me no choice but to explore the option of a tort for malicious prosecution against Graham Watton, who prompted the repeated investigations, the RNC, and the Government of NL," Buckle said in an email.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has asked for another review of Buckle's actions — the latest step in a saga that has played itself out for several years. 

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said Thursday he has asked Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) to "conduct an independent, external review and investigation into matters related to the conduct" of Buckle in relation to the RNC's investigation of Kelly. 

"The SIRT mandate will encompass a review and investigation of all matters pertaining to the conduct of Sergeant Buckle in respect of this matter along with the resulting investigations," Parsons said in a statement Thursday. 

In an interview later, Parsons suggested another review was necessary because the matter had not been investigated by a civilian-led group.

"This is a matter that again has involved police investigating police. And that's something that we've indicated our desire to move away from that, and move to civilian, independent oversight."

The announcement comes a year after Newfoundland and Labrador's public prosecutions office announced it was taking another look at what Buckle said to Kelly, who was convicted in 2015 of making indecent calls and committing public mischief by falsely implicating an innocent person.

Kelly's trial heard that Buckle told Kelly during a phone call that he was giving him a "heads up" that he was being investigated.

On Thursday, Buckle said that while he used that "colloquial term," Kelly was already aware of the investigation into his conduct.

"I at no time intended or attempted to interfere with the criminal investigation and my involvement actually assisted in his conviction," he said, adding he was fully co-operative in the previous reviews.

The Ontario Provincial Police investigated Buckle's conduct and determined in December 2015 there was no criminal wrongdoing. 

However, the public prosecutions office in Newfoundland and Labrador asked the OPP last spring to launch another review

What the OPP determined in that review has not yet been revealed.