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City Hall security hid Rob Ford misconduct, report says: source

City councillor Rob Ford, centre, stands before council to deliver an apology following a complaint to the Integrity Commission during a city council meeting at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

Toronto's ombudsman is preparing to release a scathing report into the conduct of City Hall security at the height of the Rob Ford scandal – including one instance where a guard reportedly covered a security camera to block it from recording the former mayor's alleged intoxication.

The report, to be released Thursday, is the result of ombudsman Fiona Crean's investigation into the actions of the publicly funded security officers, according to a source familiar with the probe.

When approached for comment on Wednesday, a spokesman for Ms. Crean declined to comment before the report's release.

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Unlike current mayor John Tory who travels with a Toronto Police officer, the former mayor opted not to have a police escort or hire private guards. Instead, as details of his drug and alcohol abuse became public over the past two years, he was known to frequently call on City Hall security to escort him throughout the building – and fend off reporters and protesters.

The resulting skirmishes led to a number of complaints against security by members of the public, who claimed the guards were overstepping their bounds.

City spokesperson Jackie DeSouza said she would not comment on specific details of the report until it is made public on Thursday.

"The last few years were an unprecedented time ‎and City Hall Security was placed in a difficult position a number of times during the last administration," she said in a statement. "The City is committed to continuous improvement and will ‎work collaboratively with the Office of the Ombudsman throughout the implementation of the recommendations."

In one instance, according to the source, Ms. Crean found that one security officer physically blocked a City Hall security camera in order to prevent it from recording the mayor in an allegedly intoxicated state as he exited the building.

According to the source, another instance – a fracas involving Mr. Ford and a large crowd of reporters – is included in Ms. Crean's report.

That week, court documents revealed for the first time a description from police of the video that showed Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Ford – who has since admitted to drug abuse, and attended rehab – refused to answer questions from reporters. He did, however, film a TV segment with U.K. food journalist Giles Coren in Nathan Phillips Square, laughing and joking next to a hot-dog truck.

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As a growing throng of reporters appeared at the former mayor's side, asking about the drug allegations, Mr. Ford was escorted back into the building by a number of security guards. Surrounded by the guards, the former mayor proceeded to run through the pack of reporters and up a set of stairs, knocking over a Globe and Mail photographer as he reached the second floor. From there, he sprinted toward his office.

The former mayor's chief of staff Dan Jacobs said Mr. Ford would not be commenting on the report Wednesday.

The tumultuous mayoralty of Mr. Ford resulted many times in chaos at City Hall. In one notorious instance, the former mayor bowled over fellow councillor Pam McConnell during a heated shouting match in the council chamber with members of the public.

Ms. McConnell was also interviewed by the ombudsman's office about that incident as part of her report.

"I think it is important to look at the details around those issues," said Councillor Jaye Robinson about the impending report.

But, she added, "I would say that era is behind us…The city's moved on. We have new leadership. We have a new administration."

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