Douglas Christie

Advice to Accused Persons about Mr. Big Operations

On July 31, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the potential for abuse in “Mr. Big” sting operations. In deciding the case of R. v. Hart, 2014 SCC 52, the Court acknowledged that undercover officers tasked with eliciting confessions have a tendency to take things too far:

“Mr. Big operations create a risk that the police will resort to unacceptable tactics in their pursuit of a confession. As mentioned, in conducting these operations, undercover officers often cultivate an aura of violence in order to stress the importance of trust and loyalty within the organization. This can involve — as it did in this case — threats or acts of violence perpetrated in the presence of the accused. In these circumstances, it is easy to see a risk that the police will go too far, resorting to tactics which may impact on the reliability of a confession, or in some instances amount to an abuse of process.

At present, however, these operations are conducted in a legal vacuum. The legal protections afforded to accused persons, which are often intended at least in part to place limits on the conduct of the police in their investigation and interrogation of accused people, have no application to Mr. Big operations.”

Years before the Supreme Court caught on to this dangerous reality, Douglas Christie saw the potential for unreliable confessions and wrongful convictions. His advice in the following video remains just as prescient today:


�2002 - 2013. All material on this website copyright, all rights reserved.