Judge dismisses libel suit against Rob Ford

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford seen here speaking at a City of Toronto economic development event on November 29, 2012.


TORONTO – A $6-million libel lawsuit against Mayor Rob Ford has been dismissed.

In a decision from Justice John Macdonald released Thursday, the judge says that Boardwalk Cafe owner George Foulidis failed to prove that comments Ford made alleging corruption damaged his reputation.

Macdonald said Foulidis' lawyer failed to prove the words Ford spoke referred to him and were defamatory.

"In my view, having found that the plaintiff has failed to prove his case, there is no good reason why I should make findings of fact or express conclusions about either the defences raised, or the issue of express malice," he wrote in the 16-page decision.

Foulidis launched the lawsuit during the 2010 mayoral campaign after Ford alleged the sole-source deal Tuggs Inc. -- a company owned by the Foulidis family -- reached with the city to run the cafe was corrupt.

Ford made the comments at a Toronto Sun editorial board meeting.

Ford said he welcomed the news of the dismissal in a brief statement issued Thursday.

"I will continue fighting to represent the best interests of Toronto taxpayers at City Hall," Ford said.

"There is still a lot of work to be done and I will continue to focus on this."

Foulidis told the Sun Thursday he had not read the judgment but would meet with counsel Friday before making any comments.

While Macdonald acknowledged in his decision that the statements made by Ford are of a serious nature, he said they were not defamatory.

While Ford told the Sun that the Boardwalk Cafe deal "stinks to high heaven" and alleged that "skulduggery" was going on behind closed doors at Toronto city council, he also offered "strong limiting expressions."

Ford told the Sun "I can't accuse anyone,”and Macdonald said that statement would lead reasonable people to believe that Ford could not specifically blame anyone.

The libel trial ran six days in November and Foulidis' lawyer, Brian Shiller, argued that Ford's comments impugned his client's reputation. But Macdonald said he had serious issues with Foulidis' credibility.

Foulidis was found to have participated in a fraud, attempting to assist his mother in "defeating the terms of claims of a judgment creditor." When asked about it on the witness stand, Foulidis initially denied being a part of the fraud but relented under cross-examination.

"I find that the plaintiff attempted to mislead this court about his past fraudulent conduct," Macdonald said.

Foulidis' lawyer Brian Shiller said in an e-mail that his client was "disappointed in the decision and considering his options."

The restaurateur could still appeal the decision.

-- With files from Joe Warmington

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