Nova Scotia’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Nova Scotia’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Mistaken identity: Porn allegation dropped against Nova Scotia doctor after mix-up

Halifax police have blamed unnamed ‘partner’ agencies

In a bizarre case of mistaken identity, Halifax police blamed unnamed “partner” agencies Tuesday for providing erroneous information that led to the arrest of a local doctor who was wrongly accused of possessing child pornography.

“(Police) acted swiftly and in good faith as soon as the new information came to light,” Halifax Regional Police said in a statement Tuesday. “We recognize and regret the deeply negative impact of an unfortunate error of this nature.”

The police force said it received information from two agencies — one Canadian and one American — and its Internet Child Exploitation team executed a search warrant on Dec. 2.

Const. John MacLeod, a spokesman for Halifax police, declined to name the agencies.

Police confirmed a man was arrested, but he was not formally charged. He was released from custody on a standard undertaking to abide certain conditions.

On Jan. 22, one of the agencies involved in the case alerted investigators in Halifax that a mistake had been made about the identity of the accused, though no details were released Tuesday.

The governing body for Nova Scotia doctors confirmed police had wrongly accused Dr. David Barnett, a family doctor who works in Cole Harbour, a suburb east of Halifax. Barnett could not be reached for comment.

Dr. Gus Grant, the college’s CEO, said the Crown on Monday confirmed police had mistaken Barnett for someone with a similar nameand email address in Ohio, who has been arrested. The allegation against Barnett was dismissed in Halifax provincial court on Monday, he said.

“It’s a remarkably disturbing story,” Grant said in an interview Tuesday.

“I feel terribly sorry that this has happened to Dr. Barnett. As a college, we will do what we can to restore his good name in the profession and in the eyes of the public.”

The CEO said there is no evidence connecting the doctor with the alleged crime. When the college learned about the mix-up, it immediately convened a committee to remove an interim suspension imposed on Barnett in early December.

Grant stressed the college did not take any disciplinary action against Barnett. The interim suspension was required to ensure the safety of the public and the integrity of the medical profession, but this measure will not become part of the college’s record, he said.

“Dr. Barnett has been a victim of mistaken identity,” Grant said. “His name is entirely clear, as it should be.”

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP execute search warrant; illegal drugs seized

Two Wetaskiwin residents have been charged with possession and trafficking of Methamphetamine.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

Most Read