February 2, 2015 5:57 pm
Updated: February 2, 2015 9:37 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Dalhousie urged police not to ‘contribute unnecessarily’ to Facebook controversy


HALIFAX – Last month at the height of the scandal surrounding a Facebook group run by Dalhousie University dentistry students, social media streams were flooded with requests for police to launch an investigation into the matter.

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Halifax Regional Police responded on Facebook and Twitter that investigators didn’t have copies the unedited posts that were at the center of the controversy, so they couldn’t make a determination of criminal activity.

Police tweeted they would be liaising with Dalhousie University Security.

READ MORE: Dentistry investigation should be done externally, Dalhousie senate told

Documents obtained by Global News through a freedom of information request show that Dalhousie spokesperson Janet Bryson sent an email to police stating the university “would appreciate that you don’t tweet that you will be liaising with us on the material.

“We feel this may contribute unnecessarily to the controversy.”

Numerous times over a two-day period, Dalhousie sent emails asking police to stop tweeting about the university’s implied co-operation.

Read the documents obtained by Global News:

The emails were exchanged between Bryson and Halifax Regional Police public relations manager Theresa Rath. A number of people were listed as copied recipients, which eventually included police chief Jean-Michel Blais and Dalhousie’s director of communications Brian Leadbetter.

The emails reveal Dalhousie’s refusal to share the posts with police in the absence of a court order.

“Dalhousie requires a subpoena to produce the material,” one email said.

A subpoena is typically issued to compel a witness to appear before a court. Another type of subpoena orders physical evidence be presented to the court or ordering authority — in this case, Halifax Regional Police.

After the subpoena comment, nearly a full day passed without email communication.

“Nice to talk with you this afternoon,” begins the next response from Rath, dated Jan. 13.

That evening, Global News broke the story that Halifax Regional Police had requested the Facebook posts and that Dalhousie had not complied.

Later that week, Dalhousie University delivered the documents to police.

Police determined there was no basis in the documents to move forward with a criminal investigation.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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