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Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court in Toronto on Nov. 26, 2014. (CHRIS YOUNG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court in Toronto on Nov. 26, 2014. (CHRIS YOUNG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

CBC manager disputes account of Jian Ghomeshi probe Add to ...

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s internal investigation into former host Jian Ghomeshi’s behaviour continues to be dogged by discrepancies, as a radio manager denies helping carry out the probe – contrary to a colleague’s claims.

At 9:18 a.m. on Monday, the CBC’s director of network talk radio, Linda Groen, e-mailed one of her superiors, executive director of radio and audio Chris Boyce, to “set the record straight” about an interview he had given to the public broadcaster’s own program, the fifth estate.

The interview aired last Friday, with Mr. Boyce outlining an internal investigation the CBC launched in July to determine whether Mr. Ghomeshi, who would later be fired as host of the radio show Q, had behaved inappropriately at work. CBC managers talked to “a cross-section of people who had worked on Q” after two producers raised a “red flag,” according to Mr. Boyce. “Some were interviewed by me, some were spoken to by Linda Groen, some were spoken to directly by HR,” he said.

But Ms. Groen casts doubt on Mr. Boyce’s account in her Monday e-mail, obtained by The Globe and Mail, which raises new questions about how rigorously the corporation scrutinized the workplace conduct of a host who was among its biggest stars at the time.

“At no point did you or any senior manager ever instruct me to c onduct such an investigation, formally or otherwise,” Ms. Groen writes. “To the contrary, I was assured and confident that you and HR were handling the matter and asking the appropriate people the necessary questions. To characterize, post facto, my role as investigative, however loosely defined, is a misrepresentation of facts and surprising.”

Last week, Mr. Ghomeshi was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking, and released on $100,000 bail. He will plead not guilty to all charges, according to his lawyer, Marie Henein.

The CBC’s head of public affairs, Chuck Thompson, said in an e-mail Tuesday that the broadcaster “conducted an internal investigation,” including a review of Mr. Ghomeshi’s employment file, cross-referenced with other disciplinary files and “a series of discreet conversations” with managers, program leaders and Q staff. “Coming out of this review, there was no evidence of sexual harassment in the workplace by Mr. Ghomeshi,” Mr. Thompson said.

Ms. Groen’s e-mail also refers to another apparent discrepancy in Mr. Boyce’s account: that all employees questioned in the investigation said Mr. Ghomeshi had never harassed them, nor had they seen or heard of any inappropriate behaviour on his part. Yet 16 staff who worked at Q last summer told the fifth estate no one ever approached them, and only executive producer Arif Noorani did not respond.

“We didn’t speak to everybody on the [Q] team, but I know we spoke to a number of people on the team,” Mr. Boyce said in his fifth estate interview. He declined to elaborate, saying the internal review is now the subject of a third-party investigation being led by lawyer Janice Rubin, which Mr. Thompson confirmed.

Ms. Groen also promised to share her e-mail with Ms. Rubin and Q staff, as “I wish for a full and truthful accounting.”

Neither Ms. Groen nor Mr. Boyce returned e-mails requesting comment.

The CBC fired Mr. Ghomeshi on Oct. 26, three days after a lawyer representing the former radio star showed Mr. Boyce and another CBC executive video, photographs, texts and e-mails that Mr. Ghomeshi hoped would support his claims that his sexual encounters were consensual, if “rough.” Mr. Boyce alleges he saw proof that Mr. Ghomeshi “had caused physical injury to a woman.”

Since Mr. Ghomeshi’s firing, at least 15 women have made allegations – all but two of them anonymously – of sexual abuse, violence or harassment against him to various media organizations, and three women have made complaints to Toronto police.

The CBC knew of allegations from at least three women as early as May, and continued to believe Mr. Ghomeshi’s pleas of innocence for months.

“He looked into my eyes and he said, ‘I have never crossed any ethical or legal line,’” Mr. Boyce told the fifth estate, later adding, “Our job is not to be the police.”

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