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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The village is hoping for a start date in early April with completion as soon as possible. (Granisle Village website photo/Houston Today)
Granisle’s curling rink to receive a facelift

Receives a $362,148 provincial grant

A huge milestone for Granisle to reach 50 years, said Mayor. (Village of Granisle photo/Lakes District News)
Granisle’s 50 years anniversary celebration postponed

The celebrations are now set to be held in 2022

Topley is part of the 10 projects funded in the north. (Laura Blackwell photo/Houston Today)
Topley to receive economic funding

Part of province’s $20.7 million Climate Adaptation Program

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read