Toronto Mayor Rob Ford responds to unproven allegations about him making sexual comments about a female staffer, as he arrives at City Hall in a football jersey in Toronto, November 14, 2013.
Credits: REUTERS/Mark Blinch
TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford could sue his former staffers for defamation of character if their lurid tales of cocaine, prostitutes and drunken driving were untrue, two Toronto lawyers say.
But, Ford can't sue anyone "for telling the truth," said defence lawyer Ari Goldkind, a 13-year attorney.
"And this is not a man who is interested in testing the truth," he said.
The second hurdle Ford faces is his own damning admissions -- that he smoked crack cocaine and has bought illicit drugs in the past two years, veteran defence lawyer Monte MacGregor said.
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"He has already diminished his own reputation by those public statements that he has used and purchased illicit drugs," said MacGregor, who successfully defended Richard Newman -- once featured on American's Most Wanted -- on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of security guard Rhoan Gooden at a Scarborough club in August 2002. Newman, now 42, was acquitted by a jury in 2010.
An attorney for 10 years, MacGregor noted anyone intentionally giving a false statement to police could face their own legal troubles. Interview subjects are warned of the consequences if they lie to police.
"The police themselves would charge someone with public mischief -- in essence for misleading the police and sending them on a wild goose chase," he said.
Although Ford has admitted to several crimes, he hasn't been charged, Goldkind said, adding "There's no more powerful evidence than what comes out of a person's mouth."
"If respected homicide investigator, Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux is on this case, there has to be a bigger end game," said Goldkind, who represents Gardens sex predator Gordon Stuckless.
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MacGregor said witness' statements to police during a police investigation can be protected under Canadian law from defamation lawsuits because of the defence of privilege, as long as the witness is honest.
"This principle enables investigators to obtain information from witnesses without them fearing the possibility of civil action over those statements given to investigators," MacGregor said, adding information contained in certain court documents, such as an Information to Obtain a search warrant, is also privileged.
Witnesses who lie to police could also face criminal charges such as obstruction of justice or perjury.