Toronto Star reporter won't sue Rob Ford after 2nd apology issued
Published Wednesday, December 18, 2013 7:56PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 18, 2013 10:37PM EST
Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale says he will no longer pursue a defamation lawsuit against Mayor Rob Ford, after the mayor issued a complete retraction and apology for comments he made on a TV show.
In an open letter to the reporter released Wednesday evening, Ford retracted his statements about Dale “lurking” and taking photographs of his children in his backyard during a 2012 incident, and apologized.
It was the mayor’s second try at an apology, after his first attempt failed to stop Dale from proceeding with the lawsuit.
“I sincerely appreciate Mayor Ford’s complete retraction and unqualified apology, and I’m very glad the truth is no longer in dispute,” Dale tweeted after Ford’s apology letter was handed out to reporters at city hall.
“I won't be taking legal action against the mayor, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work.”
Dale served Ford with a libel notice last week for comments the mayor made during an interview with Conrad Black that aired on Vision TV’s show Zoomer.
Ford was asked to identify the worst moment he had experienced with media scrutiny. He mentioned a May 2, 2012 incident in which he confronted Dale on public land behind his Etobicoke home.
“I guess the worst one was Daniel Dale in my backyard taking pictures,” Ford told Black. “I have little kids. When a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say that word but you start thinking, ‘What’s this guy all about?’”
Ford told Black that Dale was standing “on the bricks, over the fence, taking pictures” on his property.
In his apology Wednesday, Ford wrote: “This recollection of the incident is inaccurate in that I never saw Mr. Dale standing on bricks or cinderblocks, never saw Mr. Dale looking over my fence and never saw Mr. Dale taking any pictures.”
Ford also said that “there is no basis for saying” that Dale was “lurking” or “leering” on his property.
“In the interview with Mr. Black, I was recounting what I had been initially told by a neighbour,” Ford wrote, apologizing for the “imprecise and inaccurate manner in which I described the events which followed our encounter in May 2012.”
Dale has repeatedly said that he simply wanted to look at a piece of public parkland adjacent to the mayor’s property for a story about Ford’s attempt to buy that land.
Dale has said that he attempted to take a picture of the parkland with his cellphone, but the photo was never saved because his battery died.
In his letter, Ford noted that police investigated the incident and no charges were laid against Dale.
“Finally there was absolutely no basis for the statement I made about Mr. Dale taking pictures of children, or for any insinuations I made,” Ford wrote.
“I should not have said what I did and I wholly retract my statements and apologize to Mr. Dale without reservation for what I said.
“I sincerely hope that Mr. Dale will accept my personal apology for my comments and all harm my words may have caused him.”
In his libel notice, Dale demanded that the mayor “immediately retract the false insinuation that I am a pedophile and all of his false statements about my conduct on May 2, 2012. I’m also asking Ford and Vision-owner ZoomerMedia to apologize immediately ‘publicly, abjectly, unreservedly and completely.’”
Late Wednesday, ZoomerMedia issued a statement saying: "We are pleased to see that Mayor Ford has responded to the libel allegations by Mr. Dale by offering a full apology and retraction of his comments.
“We have always believed that this was primarily a matter between Mr. Dale and Mr. Ford. However, we sincerely regret the part ZoomerMedia played in broadcasting the offending words spoken by Mr. Ford, and apologize for that. We can confirm that those words will never again be broadcast on any of our television outlets or websites."
Dale then tweeted: “I appreciate Zoomer's statement. While it's hard to understand how the mayor's comments made it to air, I won't be taking legal action.”
Ford’s first apology to Dale came Tuesday. He stood in council chambers and said he was sorry “for the way in which the media has interpreted my statements.”
“I never called Mr. Dale a pedophile,” Ford said. “I have never used that word to describe Mr. Dale. I do not believe that Mr. Dale is a pedophile, nor did I intend to suggest that in my comments.”
Dale said that wasn’t enough and asked for a “full retraction of all the false claims made against me and an unreserved abject apology.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at city hall as he clears a path for school children into his office in Toronto, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Mark Blinch / THE CANADIAN PRESS)