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These guys, the HQs for LatD, do not state in their rules that they are independent characters. Thus it is my inclination to believe that they are not, however my LGS owner has debated this fact by saying that all HQs are ICs. As of yet I have not convinced him otherwise, and was unable to find a post by Gav Thorpe or a similarly official response.
Can someone please direct me to a stone-cold answer that can be trusted?
They are Aspiring champions, which means they are not IC's. There is no need for anyone in GW to speak on this because your friend is simply not reading the rules
It does not say they are IC's, thus they are not IC's.. 1 wound champions are rarely IC's