Former senior RNC officer Paul Didham suing for wrongful dismissal

Then Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Sgt. Paul Didham is pictured in a 2016 file photo. (CBC - image credit)
Then Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Sgt. Paul Didham is pictured in a 2016 file photo. (CBC - image credit)

A high-profile former member of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is suing the provincial government for damages related to his departure from the force.

In court filings, Paul Didham blames former chief Joe Boland for a cascading series of events that Didham says led to his resignation two years ago, after more than two decades of service with the RNC.

The allegations have yet to be tested in court. There is no statement of defence on file at this point.

Didham was named CrimeStoppers police officer of the year for the RNC in 2016. He was assigned the rank of acting inspector in 2018, and says he managed a division with about 85 uniformed and civilian employees.

But according to a statement of claim filed at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court on Dec. 20, Didham began to have issues within his department in 2019 and 2020.

Didham claims officers under his authority who were friends with the chief would make complaints directly to Boland, instead of following the chain of command.

Didham alleges Boland began interfering in his department and "undermining" him.

According to court filings, Didham submitted a harassment-free workplace complaint related to the actions of Boland and other RNC brass — Deputy Chief Paul Woodruff and Supt. Ed Oates — that he says was "never fully investigated." All have since retired.

RCMP investigation launched into cabinet leak

In early April 2020, Service N.L. Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh was removed from the provincial cabinet.

The Mounties had begun to probe allegations of breach of trust, and breach of cabinet confidentiality.

Didham was also a subject of their inquiries.

In court filings, Didham says the Mounties advised him that their probe arose from a complaint filed by Boland.

In September 2020, the RCMP announced no charges would be laid.

CBC News would later reveal more of the backstory about how the investigation began — the details of pending RNC promotions were leaked after being presented to cabinet for approval.

Didham's statement of claim alleges Boland "also instigated a separate internal investigation and took the unprecedented step" of hiring two retired officers, who were the chief's longtime friends, to probe the same subject matter reviewed by the Mounties.

Didham alleges Boland made two further criminal complaints against him. No charges, he says, were ever laid.

Finally, in November 2020, the two retired investigators filed 24 internal RNC charges against Didham.

Didham says he was told the chief intended to suspend him without pay, and contends Boland's conduct amounted to constructive dismissal.

"The plaintiff was left with no choice but to resign to preserve his pension and because his mental health could no longer take working at the RNC," Didham's statement of claim noted.

Mark Quinn/CBC
Mark Quinn/CBC

When he left the force, Didham says, he was making more than $113,000 per year, plus an additional $20,000 to $27,000 in overtime pay.

Didham is claiming "aggravated/moral damages" resulting from his "public humiliation," along with special damages and punitive damages.

According to a LinkedIn profile in his name, Didham has been working as a senior compliance officer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada since July 2021.

Didham, through his lawyer Stephen Orr, had no immediate comment.

The RNC declined to comment.

The Department of Justice has not yet responded to a request for comment from CBC News.

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