The common-law spouse of the Nova Scotia mass murderer is suing the federal and provincial governments, alleging the charge against her was an attempt to cover for the RCMP’s failures in April 2020.

The RCMP announced the charge against Lisa Banfield in December 2020, accusing her of transporting ammunition to the killer, who the Halifax Examiner refers to by his initials, GW. Those charges were withdrawn in July 2022 after Banfield testified at the Mass Casualty Commission.

Last month, Banfield’s lawyer, Moncton-based Brian Murphy, filed a notice of action in Amherst Supreme Court against the provincial and federal governments.

“The Plaintiff states, and the fact is, that the Nova Scotia RCMP instigated a baseless investigation into the Plaintiff’s involvement in the events of April 18-19, 2020 in an effort to draw attention away from the errors committed by the Nova Scotia RCMP in their response to the events of April 18-19, 2020,” Murphy wrote in the filing, dated Oct. 20.

“As a result of the RCMP’s baseless investigation, the Plaintiff was charged by the NSPPS on December 4, 2020. As a result of this malicious prosecution, the Plaintiff has suffered significant losses for which she claims general and special damages.”

None of the claims in the notice of action has been tested in court, and neither level of government has filed a defence.

Murphy argued in the statement that when federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and then-provincial Justice Minister and Attorney General Mark Furey announced a joint review (which later became an inquiry following public scrutiny), that “placed intense pressure on the Nova Scotia RCMP as it threatened to expose errors committed by” the Mounties on April 18-19 2020.

“The Plaintiff states that, in response to the announcement by Minister Blair and Attorney General Furey on July 23, 2020, though Assistant Commissioner [Lee Bergerman] publicly welcomed the joint inquiry, the RCMP began constructing charges against the Plaintiff in order to create the appearance that the Nova Scotia RCMP was accomplishing something.”

The Nova Scotia RCMP was “negligent” in its investigation, Murphy wrote, and it failed to notify Banfield that she was being investigated. Banfield gave interviews to police on April 20, April 28, and June 28, and performed a videotaped re-enactment of the night of the murders in October 2020. But on those occasions, Banfield wasn’t informed of her right to counsel.

“The Plaintiff retained counsel on April 20, 2020, who spoke to Staff Sergeant [Greg] Vardy and was assured that the Plaintiff was being viewed solely as a victim,” Murphy wrote.

Banfield only learned she was under investigation when the RCMP announced charges, Murphy wrote.

The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service (NSPPS), along with the RCMP, Murphy alleges, “pursued a baseless and trumped up charge” against Banfield.

“The Plaintiff states, and the fact is that the NSPPS and the Nova Scotia RCMP, defamed the Plaintiff with their accusations that she had provided the Perpetrator with ammunition prior to the events of April 18-19, 2020. The Plaintiff states that such allegations were false, referred to the Plaintiff, and were published in a statement by Superintendent Campbell on the RCMP website on December 4, 2020,” Murphy wrote.

“These charges were unlawful, due to documented circumstances of coercive control and life-threatening violence over the entirety of their common law relationship. The Plaintiff states and the fact is, that the Defendants, the Nova Scotia RCMP and the NSPPS, ought to have known that these charges would cause injury to the Plaintiff.”

The RCMP and NSPPS’ actions, Murphy wrote, “were a blatant and callous disregard of the Plaintiff’s rights, and were offensive to the ordinary standards of decent conduct in the community.”

Banfield is seeking to-be-determined general, special, and punitive damages for “loss of reputation, quality of life, pain and suffering;” “loss of past income and loss of future earning capacity;” expenses; legal fees; and “cost of care.”

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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