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Senior Parole Board official behaved badly, says integrity watchdog

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Integrity commissioner Mario Dion in Ottawa, December 13, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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Integrity commissioner Mario Dion in Ottawa, December 13, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - A Conservative appointee to the Parole Board of Canada shared private details about offenders with the Ontario Provincial Police, says a new report by public sector integrity commissioner Mario Dion.

The findings shed light on why former police officer Frederick Tufnell was mysteriously demoted last fall from his position as vice-chairman of the Ontario/Nunavut regional division of the parole board.

The Conservative government named Tufnell, a former York region police officer, to the board in 2009 and elevated him to the vice-chairman's job two years later.

Cabinet orders-in-council show the government demoted Tufnell in October and asked him to explain why he should not lose the posting. His explanation apparently did not satisfy the government, prompting his demotion.

However, he remains a member of the parole board.

A report released Thursday by Dion's office offered some insight into Tufnell's demotion.

Tufnell shared the release dates of criminals and the anticipated conditions of their releases with police, Dion said.

"There are policies governing these matters at both the parole board and the correctional service," he said.

"Mr. Tufnell went out of these channels and essentially did what he thought was appropriate but did not follow the rules that are applicable at the federal level."

It's unclear why Tufnell shared offenders' information with police. A call to provincial police spokeswoman Sgt. Kristine Rae was not immediately returned.

Dion's office also found that Tufnell behaved inappropriately towards female staff and put himself in a conflict of interest by getting involved in a file he had previously recused himself from for reasons of bias.

Tufnel apparently had some involvement with the person's case during his days as a police officer, Dion said.

The integrity commissioner's report says Tufnell sent emails expressing his view of the case, then ordered a second review of a decision made by the parole board and demanded that a new decision be taken.

The report says Tufnell ultimately got the decision he wanted — even though he wasn't supposed to have been involved in the case.

"All I know is he asked for a new review of a decision already validly made by two members," Dion said.

"I assume he did not like the decision, otherwise he would not have asked for a review."

The investigation also found that Tufnell would put his hands on the knees of female staff when speaking to them, touch their backs, arms, necks and hair and make flirty and offensive jokes.

Tufnell was also found to have given back massages to female staff and to have let a woman who worked with him rub his feet, which he later claimed was a form of palm reading.

He also criticized colleagues to people outside the organization.

Tufnell's actions came to light as part of another investigation into the parole board, Dion said, although he would not provide any details about that case.

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