John Norton, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s Director of Legal Services, who was tasked with investigating the information leak, stated in a report Monday to council, “The preliminary investigation has not revealed who disclosed the Confidential Report to the press.”
The original document was acquired by the Chatham Daily News.
The investigation was inconclusive due to the fact several council members use external email addresses and do not utilize a Municipal address, while other members of council and administration forwarded the confidential report to their personal email accounts and other members of administration. The report prepared by Norton, stated that multiple councillors forwarded the report to their private emails, while the Mayor and members of Administration also forwarded the email to others within the Municipality’s administration and to external parties.
The Municipal Act states that no member of council shall disclose the substance of deliberations held in a closed session meeting. The investigation however, was unable to clarify whether any member of council, with the exception of the Mayor, disclosed information to an outside party, or whether the leak came from a member of administration.
Norton stated in his report, that although he is unsure of the source of the leak, it is believed it came from a member of Council,
“I do not know how the Confidential Report made its way into the hands of the press,” Norton wrote. “It could have been leaked intentionally or unintentionally. The person that caused the breach of confidentiality might be a member of Council or a member of Administration/employee. I have hearsay evidence that it was leaked to the press by a member of Council.”
Since the leak of information regarding a possible OHL franchise moving to Chatham-Kent hit the press, little public discussion has emerged, and no further details have become available. The OHL team believed to be in discussion with Chatham-Kent, was the Erie Otters, with a group of local investors supporting the bid.
Norton did propose nexts steps to the investigation, which could be conducted internally, or via the hiring of an Integrity Commisioner, which could cost the Municipality as much as $50,000.