Calgary police chief orders search of employee’s home

“Anton Piller” order follows months of internal criticism

Calgary’s police chief, Jack Beaton, has reportedly obtained an “Anton Piller” order to search the home of a contract employee believed to be involved in a website critical of his leadership.

According to reports by the Calgary Herald and the CBC, the order was obtained to seize a computer believed to be used in setting up the website purportedly authored by police employees.

Anton Piller orders are effectively a search and seizure order allowing a party in a civil dispute entry to named premises and confiscate documents or goods relevant to the civil action.

They’re often granted when a party can show reason to believe that the evidence would otherwise be destroyed.

The order has been sealed by the court, and neither Beaton nor Jan Vahey, a contract employee doing transcription work whose home was searched, will comment on the case.

The chief has been subject to intense criticisms from within the service in recent months. In October, the police administration learned of a website called Standfirm Team, which claimed it represented civilian and sworn members of the police service who “have either been victims of tyranny, politics, harassment, bullying, racism, constructive termination, etc.”

At the time, Beaton called the website, “mean-spirited and in poor taste.” He also said the service “intends to take every measure necessary to discover who is responsible and hold them fully accountable for their actions.”

In an e-mail to the media last fall, the website’s creators said their goal was to “present evidence of the toxicity and lack of management that is rampant in the organization.

“It is to stress the importance of having a non-biased third party investigate the cases that Beaton and the current police commission have buried.”

Prior to the appearance of the website, allegations had already emerged that the chief covered up misconduct committed by officers. In two unrelated complaints filed at the Calgary Police Commission last April, former constable Shon Marsh and Const. Taufiq Shah said they were targets for racist taunts, intimidation and harassment.

They also alleged that the chief failed to act on the formal complaints they filed as a result of the harassment, which would amount to neglect of duty and discreditable conduct under the province’s police regulations.

More on "Anton Piller" orders

Anton Piller orders may be on the rise in employer-employee disputes. For more information about Anton Piller orders, check out the following article from Canadian Employment Law Today, a sister publication to Canadian HR Reporter that focuses on employment law issues from a business perspective.

To read the article click here.

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