Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Reporter Asks for $100,000 Security in Libel Case Involving Former Olympic CEO

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Reporter Asks for $100,000 Security in Libel Case Involving Former Olympic CEO

Article excerpt

Furlong libel case in court over costs

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VANCOUVER - A freelance journalist who wrote an article alleging former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong verbally and physically abused British Columbia students in the 1960s and '70s asked a judge Monday to force Furlong to put up $100,000 to prove he can pay legal costs if he loses.

The procedural application, which relied on a rarely used section of law that has only been used twice in more than a century, largely focused instead on what Robinson's lawyer described as the "bitter" feud between the pair.

Laura Robinson wrote an article for the Georgia Straight newspaper published in September 2012, quoting several people who claimed to have been taught by Furlong in Burns Lake, B.C., and Prince George, B.C., in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The former students were quoted alleging Furlong verbally and physically abused them.

Furlong immediately denied any wrongdoing and subsequently sued Robinson and the newspaper for libel. He recently dropped the Georgia Straight as a defendant and has promised to "escalate" his legal action against the reporter.

Robinson's lawyer argued Furlong should be forced to put up the $100,000 security because he has not demonstrated he could pay her legal costs if he eventually loses the case. Furlong's lawyer, in turn, argued Robinson had failed to satisfy the criteria for such an order, set out in a 122-year-old provision of B.C.'s defamation law.

The judge is expected to rule on the application on Tuesday morning.

Among the criteria for such an order is that the defendant acted in "good faith." Furlong's lawyer, John Hunter, argued Robinson did not.

"Mr. Furlong has been severely defamed, everyone in British Columbia knows that," Hunter told the court.

"Mr. Furlong is of the view that this was all done in bad faith. It was all done maliciously."

Furlong revealed he was dropping the newspaper from the lawsuit during a series of media interviews in late October, though he didn't fully explain why he was no longer targeting the newspaper.

On Monday, Hunter suggested the Straight was dropped because the newspaper could likely rely on a relatively new defence known as responsible communication, in which defendants can fend off defamation allegations if they can prove they acted responsibly and satisfied a list of criteria. …

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