Deputy warden sues over newsletter

Husband and wife prison guards fired after publishing document



The deputy warden of Nunavut’s central jail is suing a husband-wife team of prison guards who were fired two years ago for publishing a newsletter that mocked their superiors.

In his most recent court appearance, Steven Hay, 46, told a territorial judge that he’s been “looking over his shoulder” since the newsletter started circulating among prison staff on the Internet, temporarily, in the spring of 2002. Hay’s lawyer says the newsletter has reached corrections officials as far as Ontario and Alberta.

The so-called BCC Gazette, a single edition newsletter named after the Baffin Correctional Centre, makes uncomplimentary allegations about Hay’s person and habits.

Hay, then acting deputy warden, complained to his superiors when he read a copy of the publication, and two correctional officers, Justin and Crystal Partridge, were fired.

Hay filed a defamation lawsuit later that year against the Partridges, seeking at least $275,000 in damages.

The Partridges, believed to be living in Sylvan Lake, Alta., have not filed a statement of defence, and declined to show up for any court dates.

During a civil trial on Aug. 10 in Iqaluit, Hay said the fallout from the newsletter made him question whether he could do his job and whether the rumours spawned by the publication would affect future job prospects.

“Is this going to follow me around?” Hay said during his hour-long testimony. “It’s certainly going to make things different.”

According to Hay’s testimony in court, the Partridge’s newsletter arose from a long-standing conflict he had with the couple, especially Justin Partridge. Hay said in court that inmates hated Partridge, who he described as a “belligerent” and foul-mouthed problem employee.

At one point, every prisoner even signed a petition saying that Partridge’s aggressive behaviour would start a riot, Hay said in court.

Justice Johnson said he will make a decision in the case before November.

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