Supreme Court Ruling
Crime Stoppers Anonymity Guaranteed
The identity of people giving tips to Crime Stoppers has been protected by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Canada’s highest court ruled unanimously on February 16th, 1997 that police do not have to disclose any information they receive from this internationally recognized crime prevention program.
Justice Beverly Mclachlin, in writing the court’s decision said protecting informants has always been a priority in law.
“The rule of informer privilege is of such fundamental importance to the workings of a criminal justice system it cannot be balanced against other interest relating to the administration of justice,” McLachlin wrote. “Once the privilege has been established, neither the police nor the court possesses discretion to abridge it.”
This ruling of the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision and ordered a new trial for a Vancouver man acquitted in a drug case. Richard Dean Leipert’s lawyer successfully challenged a search warrant flowing from a Crime Stoppers’ tip. Leipert had been charged with unlawfully trafficking in marihuana.
During the trial Leipert’s lawyer used the Charter of Rights to argue prosecutors should disclosed details of how police got a search warrant.
The Crown, seeking to protect the identity of a Crime Stoppers’ informant, chose not to call evidence at the trial and Leipert was acquitted.
The Crown appealed with the Greater Vancouver Crime Stoppers Association intervening. The B.C. Court of appeal upheld the appeal and ordered a new trial.
The decision by the Supreme Court has confirmed a long standing position of Crime Stoppers that any details about the informant, or information received, however minute, could in fact jeopardize the informants anonymity, and as an end result destroy the integrity of the Crime Stoppers program.
Read entire judgement : R. V. Leipert HERE
Canadian Legal Information Institute