Friday, October 19, 2012

The Demise of Mulligan

On  Wednesday I introduced you to Walter Mulligan - a former Vancouver police chief - and today I am going to talk about his takedown.

There was a reporter by the name of Ray Munro, a snoopy fellow who worked for the Province. Munro was frustrated because his editors at the paper refused to let him go after Mulligan or Mulligan's cohort, Sergeant Leonard Cuthburt. Munro had inside informants and some of them were cops who didn't like Mulligan and thought him either incompetent or crooked.

There was something going on. Sun reporter Jack Webster had seen police men working as doormen at bookie joints. As well, in 1951, there had been over 565 convictions in six years against betting shops yet the trade was going stronger than ever.

However, the corruption and graft was about to be discovered and revealed.

Both of our major newspapers, the Vancouver Sun and the Province, were aware of the stories concerning the police chief but neither paper would do anything about it. Finally, Munro quit the Province and went to work for a Toronto-based scandal sheet called Flash Weekly. He was named Vancouver editor and Munro had four years of notes concerning the nefarious activities of Walter Mulligan.

June 15, 1955, the Flash hits the news stands with the headline: RAPE OF VANCOUVER! MUNRO TEARS MASK FROM CROOKED LAW IN GANGLAND EDEN. They expected this edition to be popular so an extra 10,000 copies were printed and the paper was sold out before the end of the day.

Mulligan wasn't taking this lying down though. He hit back with a libel suit against Munro and the paper but that action was overshadowed by the action of the Police Commission. They put Mulligan on temporary suspension and Attorney General Robert Bonner set up a commission of inquiry to investigate Munro's accusations.

Detective Sergeant Len Cuthbert was sitting at his desk in the police station at 8:15 the following morning. Cuthbert took his service revolver and pressed it against his left side and fired. He was aiming for his heart. The police officer was rushed to the hospital and emergency surgery was performed. The bullet had missed his heart by an eighth of an inch. Cuthbert would live to testify against Mulligan.

It would come out later that Cuthbert was a fishing buddy of another Province reporter Eddie Moyer. Cuthbert had casually told Moyer about the payoffs and when the Province wouldn't touch the story, Moyer had given the details to Munro.   

When Cuthbert attempted suicide he opened the flood gate. Now Vancouver's three daily newspapers - the Sun, the Province and the News-Herald - began to print details of stories the reporters had held onto for months.

Isn't this exciting? Monday I will tell you about the trial of Walter Mulligan.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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