December 10, 2014 6:59 pm

Questions swirl over effectiveness of outside Jian Ghomeshi probe at CBC

Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi, centre, is escorted out of court after being released on bail in Toronto on Wednesday, November 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
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TORONTO – Questions about the effectiveness of an investigation into the CBC’s handling of the Jian Ghomeshi affair swirled Wednesday amid employee concerns about incriminating themselves.

While senior managers defended the process as independent, the union said only a promise of immunity would allow all employees to speak freely to investigator Janice Rubin.

There’s no guarantee that your information or your identity is protected, said Carmel Smythe, president of the Canadian Media Guild.

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“Every day, it looks less independent, that she’s just now taking orders and supplying all the information to CBC.”

READ MORE: CBC union warns members about investigation into Jian Ghomeshi

CBC asked Rubin, a labour lawyer, to conduct an independent investigation after firing Ghomeshi, 47, as host of the radio show “Q” in October. The broadcaster said it axed Ghomeshi after seeing what it called “graphic evidence” he had caused physical injury to a woman.

More than a dozen other women then stepped forward with allegations he had physically or sexually attacked them, with one woman saying he had sexually harassed her at work but her complaints went nowhere.

Ghomeshi has denied the allegations, arguing that he engaged in “rough sex”, but insisting it was always consensual.

Earlier this week, the guild cautioned members that Rubin would be recording their interviews with her – information that could wind up being used in disciplinary proceedings against them.

CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson on Wednesday confirmed that could happen – but only after disciplinary proceedings had already started.

Essentially, he said, Rubin would flag the need to take action against an employee in her final report.

“If there’s something that she believes needs to be brought to management’s attention based on her investigation, she will do that,” Thompson said.

“Any discipline that would be taken would fall to management.”

Despite the guild’s misgivings, one management source said those who had already spoken to Rubin were struck by her professional approach and had come away assured there would be no whitewash.

Among those who have spoken to Rubin was former “Q” producer Kathryn Borel, the woman who said she had complained to no effect about Ghomeshi to union representative Timothy Neesam.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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