Author Topic: We ‘blew it’, military police official says of suicide note coverup  (Read 2312 times)

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We ‘blew it’, military police official says of suicide note coverup

By Chris Cobb, The Ottawa Citizen June 12, 2012

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/blew+military+police+official+says+suicide+note+coverup/6772064/story.html#ixzz1xhxnXRGz


National Investigative Services (NIS) former deputy commander Major Francis Bolduc told the Military Police Complaints Commission hearing that withholding the suicide note from Cpl. Stuart Langridge’s family had been an error.

OTTAWA — A senior military police officer admitted Tuesday that his officers “blew it” when they kept a suicide note from a grieving family for 14 months.

National Investigative Services (NIS) former deputy commander Major Francis Bolduc told the Military Police Complaints Commission hearing that withholding the suicide note from Cpl. Stuart Langridge’s family had been an error.

“There was never a procedure not to give a suicide note to a family,” he said, adding that the NIS has moved quickly to introduce “quality control” to avoid a similar incident occurring in the future.

The short suicide note contained 28-year-old Langridge’s last requests and was addressed personally to his mother Sheila and stepfather Shaun.

In it, he asked for a simple family funeral, which he did not get.

“We blew it once, and we didn’t want to blow it again,” said Bolduc, who noted that the “media outburst” over the suicide note remains fixed in his mind.

“With all the media coverage,” he said, “there were plenty of people telling us that this shouldn’t happen again. We make mistakes, but we try to learn from those mistakes. All our actions are scrutinized.”

In the House of Commons, Opposition Defence critic Jack Harris accused the Conservative government of being more interested in minimizing its own embarrassment than helping damaged soldiers.

An Ottawa Citizen story published Tuesday revealed that Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk had personally ordered his senior staff to target a Citizen story about the Langridge case and examine it for factual errors.

“This very unusual move was to find mistakes that could justify demanding a retraction from the newspaper, mistakes that were never found,” said Harris. “(It) is another troubling sign in the government’s handling of the suicide of an Afghan war veteran.

“Why is the government so focused on minimizing embarrassment, rather than trying to fix a broken system to help soldiers deal with mental injury?”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said it was “unfortunate that he (Harris) is trying to score political points on such a serious issue.

“We have moved … to double the number of mental health professionals working within the Department of National Defence,” he said.

MacKay said his department has co-operated fully with the Langridge inquiry, despite claims by Complaints Commission lawyers, and the Fynes’ own lawyer, that the government is withholding some documents and delivering others to the inquiry too late for proper examination ahead of witness testimony.

The Commission is holding the inquiry in response to complaints by Langridge’s parents that three military inquiries into their son’s death were biased in favour of the military.

In wide-ranging testimony, former NIS deputy chief Bolduc insisted that the service is fully independent, and any information it shares with other military departments is at its own discretion.

“Nobody puts limits on the NIS,’ he said.

Bolduc also defended the police service against the family’s complaint that investigators had left their son’s body hanging and uncovered for hours while they went about a detailed photographing and videoing of the small room at CFB Edmonton where he had killed himself.

“We didn’t want to miss anything,” he said. “In this case, the investigator was determined to keep the scene pristine so he could complete his work.

“It has nothing to do with lack of respect,” he added. “Perhaps from the outside it looks excessive.”

Langridge’s parents say their son was suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The military denies Langridge had PTSD and says his problems were rooted in alcohol and drug abuse.

The soldier spent one tour on reconnaissance missions in the mountains of Afghanistan and according to testimony declined from being “a happy guy” to a reclusive, depressive person prone to night terrors, fits of anger and profuse sweating.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
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