The RCMP were worried about "increased scrutiny" by journalists after an employee in their access to information office was red-flagged during a security review, according to a briefing note prepared for the commissioner.
The national police force launched a review after the security unit raised concerns about the employee during a routine clearance interview last summer.
Almost immediately after that interview was over, security seized the employee's building pass and cut off their computer access.
The employee, whose security status was suspended during the investigation, no longer works for the RCMP.
The incident was underscored in a briefing note prepared for Commissioner Brenda Lucki, obtained by CBC through the access to information system.
Most of the details about the case are redacted from the note — including whatever was troubling enough in the employee's background to trigger an investigation.
The RCMP would only call it "adverse information."
However, it was serious enough for RCMP staff to warn Lucki that other law enforcement agencies might have to be called in.
Employee no longer works for RCMP
Her office also was concerned about outside inquiries.
"Should the media become aware of this incident, it could create increased scrutiny of the RCMP," warns the briefing note.
As a worker in the ATIP office, the former employee had access to RCMP assets, personnel and sensitive information, according to the briefing note.
"We are not aware of any material being leaked or tampered with," said RCMP spokesperson Michelle Schmidt in an email to CBC.
"For privacy reasons, we cannot divulge any additional information about the person involved in this matter."
The RCMP's access-to-information and privacy branch employs 28 people full-time and four people part-time, plus one casual employee and two students, according its last annual report.
The office has been plagued by a backlog of access requests in recent years and is ranked consistently among the five federal institutions with the greatest number of complaints about access-to-information services filed against them.
According to the information commissioner's 2018-2019 annual report, tabled last week in Parliament, the RCMP has the highest inventory of access-to-information complaints.
Last year, the commissioner's office launched a review of how the RCMP "is meeting its obligation to provide timely access in light of information gathered during various investigations."