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2 Moncton Times & Transcript editors out after ethics probe

02/16/2015 07:46 EST | Updated 04/18/2015 05:59 EDT
Two senior editors at the Moncton Times & Transcript are no longer with the newspaper after an internal ethics probe by Brunswick News Inc.into one editor's acceptance of a trip to Larry's Gulch, according to the company’s ombudsman.

Al Hogan, the managing editor of the Moncton Times & Transcript, “is no longer employed by Brunswick News” and Murray Guy, the paper’s assistant managing editor, has resigned.

John Wishart has been demoted from his position as editor of the Telegraph-Journal to the editor of its editorial and opinion pages.

Patricia Graham, the BNI ombudsman, posted a column on the newspapers’ website Monday that detailed the results of an ethical investigation launched after it was learned that Guy was the guest of Danny Allain, the former chief executive officer of NB Liquor, at Larry’s Gulch, the provincial government’s fishing lodge, in 2013.Graham's column was also published on the front page of BNI's dailies in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton on Monday.

The investigation found that Guy tried to have Darell Fowlie, who served as the deputy minister of communications for former premier David Alward, alter the guest list before it was released to the media.

Graham’s column said Hogan had not been forthcoming to BNI’s senior managers in 2013 or during the recent investigation, which was led by Patrick Brethour, the editor-in-chief of Brunswick News.

The problems started in October 2013, when Telegraph-Journal reporter Shawn Berry obtained a copy of the Larry’s Gulch guest list and discovered Guy had been at the exclusive government-owned fishing lodge in northwestern New Brunswick.

Berry emailed Wishart, who would have been his editor at the Telegraph-Journal, to let him know that Guy’s name was on the list and Wishart then emailed Hogan to see if his assistant managing editor had made the trip.

Wishart had worked with Guy and Hogan at the Moncton Times & Transcript in the past.

“Mr. Hogan told Mr. Wishart that Mr. Guy’s inclusion on the list was a mistake and he had not in fact gone to the lodge,” the column said.

“Mr. Berry subsequently went back to government to ascertain whether the list contained the names of invitees or attendees. As a result, he learned that Mr. Guy had indeed gone to the lodge: he had signed a waiver consenting to the release of information saying so.”

In December 2012, the provincial government instituted a policy that required all Larry's Gulch visitors to sign a consent form so their names would be released to the public.

Guy’s trip to the fishing lodge was raised with Jamie Irving, the publisher of Brunswick News, by Wishart on Nov. 13, 2013. The two decided that Hogan would verbally reprimand Guy over the trip to the provincial government's fishing lodge.

Hogan says he never received the order to reprimand Guy and Guy said was never reprimanded, according to Graham’s column.

When it came to the story that Berry was working on for the newspapers, Irving and Wishart decided that they would publish a story if it was deemed newsworthy based on all of the visitors to the lodge that year. A story was not published.

Earlier this month, Brunswick News Inc. learned that Canadaland, an independent media site, was investigating whether Guy had been to the fishing lodge and whether the story was covered up by the Telegraph-Journal.

Graham’s column says that is when Brethour and Irving started an investigation.

Canadaland reported the story on Sunday.

The BNI investigation was critical of Guy and Hogan and indicated both editors had not been forthcoming about their involvement and had tried to keep Guy’s name from getting out to the media.

“What we do know is that Mr. Guy and Mr. Hogan knew that Telegraph-Journal reporter Shawn Berry already had a list with Mr. Guy’s name on it, yet they contrived to have a list without Mr. Guy’s name on it given to other media. They sought to have an official government document altered and to manipulate the public record. They did so knowing that their employer had fought to make this type of record public,” Graham’s column said.

Graham said BNI’s investigation is continuing.

Berry is no longer an employee with Brunswick News. He is now the press secretary for Premier Brian Gallant.

New Brunswick's Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act makes it an offence to "alter, falsify, conceal or destroy any record or part of any record, or direct another person to do so, with an intent to evade a request for access to the record."

According to the Provincial Offences Procedure Act, a judge can order anyone violating the information law's provision not to alter documents to pay "a fine of not less than $240 and not more than $10,200."

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