Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Nick Scaravelli has ruled that the Police Review Board was within its rights when it ruled that Stellarton’s fired police chief Ambrose Heighton should be reinstated at one rank lower than that of chief.
The Town of Stellarton had requested the Supreme Court give judicial review of the decision.
“The Review Board’s conclusion that it had the discretionary authority to vary the penalty of dismissal of the Chief Officer to a penalty of reduction in rank was a reasonable conclusion,” the justice stated in his written decision released today.
Heighton was fired in 2008 after he was accused of penning and distributing an anonymous letter implicating several RCMP officers in sex parties, drug use and other embarrassing or unprofessional conduct. Heighton appealed the town’s decision to fire him and the matter went before the Police Review Board. They determined that Heighton had penned the letter and by doing so had engaged in discreditable conduct.
On April 13, 2012, they ruled however that Heighton shouldn’t have been fired and said instead that he should be reinstated at one rank lower than chief.
The town argued that decision by saying that the Police Act does not expressly give the board the authorization to demote the chief officer. But the court did not agree.
“By virtue of Sections 78 and 79 of the (Police) Act the Review Board has an unfettered discretion to impose any penalty it deems fit including variation of the dismissal of a member of the police force,” Scaravelli wrote.
Heighton returned to work at the Stellarton Police Department in December.