Mayor Atwell makes explosive allegations into police, District of Saanich activity

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell says IT dept. instructed to install spyware, files formal complaint with police commissioner

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell is unleashing a torrent of allegations against the District of Saanich and local police and is confirming rumours of an extra-marital affair.

Atwell made several statements Monday afternoon at Saanich’s Data Tech Business Centre then left without taking reporters’ questions.

“In my wildest dreams I never expected to see my personal life become fodder for tabloid journalism,” said Atwell, referencing news stories of a Dec. 11 police-involved incident in Saanich.

Atwell revealed he has asked Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie to request an external police investigation into allegations that Saanich’s IT department “had been instructed to place spyware on my computer and a number of other computers within the municipal hall,” he said.

It was not immediately clear if the spyware, known as Spector 360, was installed as an employee monitoring tool, whether it was standard practice, nor if the software was installed.

“It is also why I have not felt secure and comfortable working from the mayor’s office,” he said.

On his lawyer’s advice, Atwell is advising anyone who wants to contact him through an external email out of the District’s domain –

Atwell also said he’d been pulled over four times by police while driving in recent months, twice as a mayoral candidate, once as mayor-elect and once as mayor.

“In two of those instances the instances the officer administered a road side breathalyzer test which I believe was done without reasonable suspicion,” said Atwell.

Atwell has requested the head of the Integrated Road Safety Unit, which is comprised of both municipal and RCMP officers, to review those stops.

In addition, the Mayor clarified a Dec. 11 incident in which he called 911 and Saanich Police responded.

“I called 911 as a complainant looking for help and at no time did I commit any criminal act,” he said.

As a result of the information being leaked to media, Atwell filed a complaint with the office of B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner on Monday, he said. Atwell is hoping to have an outside police force review questions surrounding the incident.

“I have not been immersed for 18 plus years in the political realm and have not had the opportunity to develop effective political skills, but that changes today,” said Atwell, adding he plans to meet with individual councillors to discuss the issues.

Coun. Fred Haynes, who attended the press conference as an observer, said that council will be issuing a joint statement once they have an opportunity to address the flurry of issues brought up by Atwell.

“I believe the mayor was clear today that he wants to move forward and council wants to put these issues behind us and move on with good governance for the people of Saanich,” Haynes said.


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