Toronto mayor's lawyer denies libel charges

George Foulidis enters the Canada Life building. He is suing Mayor Ford for libel.

Credits: Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency


TORONTO — A lawyer representing Rob Ford says the Toronto mayor did not make the comments at the heart of the a $6-million libel lawsuit.

Ford slammed a sole-sourced contract awarded to George Foulidis, owner of Tuggs Inc., which operates the Boardwalk Cafe, in an editorial meeting with the Toronto Sun during in 2010.

Lawyer Gavin Tighe said Ford does not recall making the comment and there is no evidence to suggest the contrary.

"What did Mr. Ford say to the Toronto Sun editorial board?" Tighe said. "We don't really know because if there was a recording we don't have it."

Ford told the Toronto Sun the Tuggs deal smacks of "corruption."

Tighe said that Sun reporter Jonathan Jenkins, who wrote the story at the centre of the lawsuit, did not keep a recording he made of the meeting and did not provide his notes.

What Tighe does have, which has been entered into evidence, is an e-mail sent to Foulidis which paraphrases Ford's comments and asking for comment.

The distinction is important, he said during his opening statement at the Canada Life building courthouse Tuesday.

"Mr. Ford's position is he never said them," he said. "Mr. Jenkins' (e-mail) appears to agree with that."
And while Jenkins is expected to testify in the four-day trial, the Sun has not been named in the lawsuit, which speaks to the motivation behind the legal action, Tighe said.

"What makes this confusing is, it's a rare libel case where the paper is not a party."

Brian Shiller, the lawyer for Foulidis, dismissed the notion that the lawsuit was filed for political reason.

Foulidis is not out to get the mayor, but instead wants compensation for the damage done to his reputation, he said.

"The damage caused to him was extensive and malicious," Shiller said during his opening statement.

Foulidis himself took the stand Monday afternoon talking about the lawsuit and the damage done to his reputation as the sole-sourced deal became election trail fodder in 2010.

"To this day, I just get the feeling I can't negotiate things (with the city) the way I used to," he said.
Ford sat quietly through the day's testimony and is not expected to take the stand until Friday. The mayor has a commitment, believed to be football coaching duties, that will keep him from testifying Thursday.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The case is expected to continue Wednesday.

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