The chair of the civilian board that oversees the Toronto Police Service has reversed himself over whether Chief Bill Blair offered to show the agency a video of Mayor Rob Ford apparently smoking crack cocaine.
In another indication of just how sensitive the issue is for the police, Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, backtracked after telling CBC News early Wednesday morning that “there’s an offer from the chief to show the video” to board members during the private portion of a meeting scheduled for Thursday.
Not long afterward, Mr. Mukherjee issued a written statement saying he had “misunderstood” and apologizing for any confusion.
“I want to make it clear that I misunderstood the discussion that I had with the chief with respect to this matter. The chief did not make this offer and the board will not be viewing the video in question,” he said.
For his part, police spokesman Mark Pugash said Chief Blair did not suggest showing the video to the seven-member Police Services Board.
“Did the chief make an offer?” he asked. “I’m telling you the chief did not and the chair says quite clearly the chief did not make this offer.”
Chief Blair revealed last Thursday that the force had recovered videos of the mayor earlier in the week. However, he said he could not publicly release them because of the court case against Mr. Ford’s friend, Alessandro Lisi, who was charged the same day with extortion for alleged efforts to retrieve the recording.
After dodging questions for more than five months, Mr. Ford admitted Tuesday that he had smoked crack cocaine. He also continued to challenge Chief Blair to publicly release the video, which Mr. Ford believes was recorded about a year ago.
“There’s been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor. That’s why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I’d like to see this tape. I don’t even recall there being a tape or a video and I know that. So I want to see the state that I was in,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, said he would not join with lawyers for accused drug dealer Mohammad Khattak, who are asking an Ontario Superior Court judge to compel the police to provide them copies of the videos.
“The answer’s no. I’m not able at a split-second to do something like that. I’ve got other things I’m doing. And the difference is his guy’s charged, mine isn’t,” he said.
Mr. Morris said he’s pursuing other means to secure the public release of the videos.