City of Nanaimo 'extremely frustrated' after councillor's brother leaks confidential report

By Dominic Abassi
May 18, 2018 - 3:35pm

The front page of the leaked report leaves no doubt that the document was not for public consumption.KPMG

This post from Robert Fuller appeared in several Nanaimo Facebook groups on Thursday afternoon.Facebook

NANAIMO — The province's privacy watchdog is once again investigating the City of Nanaimo after a councillor's brother leaked a "privileged and confidential" report on Facebook.

On May 17, Robert Fuller, brother of coun. Gord Fuller, posted a forensic investigative report authored by City auditor KPMG to several Facebook groups. The report was commissioned by a lawyer previously hired by chief administrative officer Tracy Samra to investigate the prevalence of personal expenses on City credit cards.

City clerk and freedom of information head Sheila Gurrie told NanaimoNewsNOW she was "extremely frustrated" by the leak, the fourth from the City now being investigated by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC).

Gurrie said she reported the latest leak to the OIPC and demanded Fuller return the document or verify it had been destroyed. She said if that doesn't happen, she will exercise her authority to take the matter to the attorney general.

"Council has been repeatedly told this can't happen, it's a breach. They know about these investigations, they know about the (privacy) act and responsibilities they have under the act and this continues be a problem," Gurrie said.

She said the leak leaves the City open to legal damage, noting KPMG and several third parties listed in the report could sue. While no one is specifically named, Gurrie said some of them are easily identifiable.

All members of Council and a "limited number of staff" had copies of the report, Gurrie said, adding there was "not a chance" this was leaked by staff.

Three freedom of information requests were recently filed seeking copies of the KPMG document, according to Gurrie.

She said it's now up to Council to decide if they wish to take any further action on the matter and staff will be providing them with options. That could include steps under the Community Charter or action through the courts to punish those responsible for the leak or recover damages.

Speaking to NanaimoNewsNOW on Friday, Robert Fuller said he posted the report because he felt the City should have released it as soon as it was received in February.

"There seems to be a lot of information swirling around as to this report and previous presentations from KPMG...I thought it prudent to put the report into the public sphere. I have no idea why this report, as it's written, was not released."

Fuller would not say how he got a copy. "I will say this because, lo and behold I am a councillor's brother, it was not any Council member."

He said he will take the weekend and consult with legal counsel before deciding whether to remove the report from Facebook or destroy any copies.

Fuller said he understands the City is now open to liabilities because of the unauthorized release.

"With all the rumours and speculation and what I consider to be misinformation being put out, I think as soon as it was handed into Council's hands it should've been made public."

The OIPC began a commissioner-initiated investigation following three previous leaks from the City:

  • Coun. Fuller posted letters containing legal advice to coun. Diane Brennan on Facebook
  • A private letter written by mayor Bill McKay to consultant Heather McKenzie ended up on the windshield of a citizen
  • The Goldner Report, investigating complaints filed by Samra, was leaked to the Globe and Mail

The OIPC declined comment, calling the matters an "active file."

NanaimoNewsNOW previously reported the OIPC held hearings with several members of Council and staff in October 2017.

Council previously set the precedent for acting to punish people for alleged leaks.

In January of this year, Brennan was censured for allegedly releasing confidential information without authorization.

On one of the final pages of the leaked report, KPMG stated "Our report is not intended for general use, circulation or publication. For the avoidance of doubt our report may not be disclosed, copied quoted or referred to in whole or in part...without our prior written consent in each specific instance."

 

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On Twitter: @domabassi

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