Woman alleges RCMP failed to protect her identity as source in homicide probe

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OTTAWA — A woman is suing the RCMP over allegations the police force failed to protect her identity as a confidential source in a homicide investigation.

The woman, known as Jane Doe in the statement of claim filed in Federal Court, says she provided the Mounties with information last year that was useful in the criminal probe.

She says the information was provided to the RCMP based on assurances her identity would be protected, adding that the force owed her a fiduciary duty under the law, especially since the homicide suspects were members of organized crime.

The statement says the RCMP acted on the information last summer and during the course of one or more interviews or interrogations, the Mounties disclosed details that effectively identified the woman as a source, placing her and immediate family in danger.

The woman and her partner, referred to as John Doe, seek financial damages to compensate for pain and suffering, mental distress, cost of future care and loss of income.

An RCMP spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter as it is before the courts.

A lawyer representing the couple did not respond to a request for comment.

The RCMP made several arrests in connection with the homicide and, around the same time, representatives from the national police force told Jane Doe "there was a risk to her safety, and to the safety of her immediate family," and it was therefore advisable for them to leave their home and enter protective custody, the statement says.

Last August the couple left their home and jobs, moving to another province.

"Since August 2019 the plaintiffs and their minor children have lived in protective custody, in hotels and temporary housing, cut off from their friends and family, fearful for their safety and unsure of their immediate or long-term future," the statement says.

Based on the gravity of the threat facing the couple as well as their potential roles as witnesses in the homicide case, they will continue to need protection indefinitely, it adds.

They have so far declined to enter the federal witness protection program, instead opting for alternative protective measures, but may "ultimately require the full extent of the protective measures available" under witness protection, the claim says.

The couple allege the RCMP failed to take all appropriate or reasonable steps available to the force to protect the information provided to the Mounties as confidential.

The claim says that from her earliest contacts with members of the RCMP, Jane Doe "was consistently reassured that her identity would never become known and that there was no risk in her co-operating with the RCMP."

These representations were "false, reckless and misleading" and amounted to breaches of duty on the part of the RCMP, the statement adds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2020.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press