Tuesday, June 24, 2003Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) welcomes a Superior Court of Justice ruling today throwing out the Toronto Police Association's $2.7-billion libel lawsuit against Toronto Star Daily Newspapers Ltd. The police association launched the class-action suit on behalf of its 7,200 members after a series of articles in the Toronto Star said police sometimes give blacks harsher treatment than whites. The articles were based on an analysis of police data for the years 1996-2002. "Libel law is a tool for citizens to use when they feel they have been wronged by the media," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said. "It should never be used as a tool to silence or intimidate investigative reporters. "This particular lawsuit was all the more egregious in that it sought damages of $2.7 billion, a foolishly grandiose amount," Ruimy added. "If it had been allowed to proceed on those terms, it would have resulted in libel chill setting in even among the biggest media companies in Canada." In his decision today, Mr. Justice Maurice Cullity said that "the whole thrust of the articles is that the evidence suggests that racial profiling occurs and that steps must be taken to identify the causes and remove them. "In my judgment," he continued, "the allegedly defamatory comments and innuendoes in the article cannot reasonably be understood as intended to apply to every officer in the TPS (Toronto Police Service)." CJFE is an association of 400 journalists, editors, producers, publishers and citizens working to promote free expression and media freedom in Canada and around the world. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 or at [email protected]
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