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British Columbia External investigation into conduct of ex-Victoria police chief can proceed, B.C. court rules

British Columbia’s Court of Appeal has ruled an external investigation into the conduct of Victoria’s former police chief can go ahead, but it notes the probe may not be in the public interest.

Justice Mary Newbury says in a unanimous written ruling that the provincial police complaint commissioner is within his rights to order a new external investigation into the conduct of former chief Frank Elsner.

Victoria’s police board conducted an internal investigation in 2015 after it came to light that Elsner had sent inappropriate Twitter messages to one of his officers.

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The commissioner’s office later ordered an external investigation, saying new information had come to light and the matter had become one of public trust, but a chambers judge struck down that order, saying it was an abuse of process.

Newbury disagreed with the judge and says that at the end of the day, the decision was a matter of policy for the commissioner.

But she urged the commissioner to consider whether an external investigation is still necessary and in the public interest, considering Elsner resigned in May 2017.

“I suggest with respect that the (commissioner) might reconsider whether it is still necessary or in the public interest to spend public funds at this late date on investigating what appears to have been an entirely consensual and short-lived flirtation via Twitter involving a chief constable who is no longer employed by the (Victoria Police Department),” she says.

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