Gough had been on parole for over five years; his parole record had been exemplary. His parole was cancelled by the Board as a result of complaints alleging that he had committed acts of sexual assaults against a number of adult females. No information was given to him as to the precise or approximate dates or places or times when the alleged acts took place, nor were the names of the alleged victims given. Gough applied to have the revocation of his parole quashed.
- To what extent does section 7 of the Charter require that a paroled inmate be given information concerning the allegations upon which the National Parole Board is relying when deciding to suspend his parole?
The Board argued that Gough had been given enough information to enable him to answer the allegations against him because he knows of the incidents in question. Reed held this was patently ridiculous; if he already has knowledge of the alleged incidents which underlie his parole suspension, then, there can be no reason not to disclose to him the Board's information concerning those incidents.
The second argument was that s. 17(5) of the Parole Regulations authorized the Parole Board not to disclose information if the release of the information would threaten the safety of individuals, or could reasonably inhibit lawful investigations. While he grants this, this argument was not unassailable in light of the Charter. Section 7 granted Gough the right to know the case against him. Departing from the decision of Pratte in Gallant, he concluded that the requirements of fundamental justice operated on a spectrum according to the circumstances of each case.
The Board argued that Gough's liberty is "conditional" as he was on parole. Since his liberty is already curtailed, he has less of an interest in liberty. Reed agreed, however, in this case, Gough's conditional liberty is at the high end of the spectrum – as close to unconditional liberty you can get while still being on parole. There is also a public interest in employing fair procedures for all members of society, including those who are on parole.
The Board also argued that Gough knew the basics of the case against him, and that was sufficient, however, Reed stated that the jurisprudence required sufficient knowledge to answer the allegations against you.
Finally, the Board tried to argue that non-disclosure is essential to the effective operation of the parole system, and that they checked their facts and thus the court should trust them. Reed says they can keep names/identities of informants confidential if it poses a risk to the informants' safety, but then they must forego reliance on that information. The Board also declined to provide evidence that their decision was reasonably necessary in a free and democratic society. The "fact-checking" argument was also held to be self-serving; this does not address the failure of the Board to provide the applicant with the information he seeks.
- The liberty interest of a person on parole attracts a higher level of procedural fairness than those already in an institutional setting.
- It is a principle of fundamental justice that an individual whose liberty is at stake has the right to know the case against him, however the nature of the disclosure obligation necessary to satisfy fundamental justice varies depending on the context.