Newspaper defends report on Toronto mayor crack allegations

Mon Sep 9, 2013 4:55pm EDT
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TORONTO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Canada's largest newspaper acted in the public interest in May when it published a report that contained allegations that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine, the Toronto Star's top editor told regulators on Monday.

Toronto Star Editor-in-Chief Michael Cooke told the Ontario Press Council, a voluntary self-regulatory organization, that his newspaper's reporting on Ford, who has said he does not smoke crack, was both ethical and legal.

He was responding to complaints made by private citizens against Torstar Corp's flagship paper over its coverage of Ford. Ford himself did not make a complaint and he did not appear at the hearing.

"I tell you now, with great emphasis, that that story is true - every word of it," Cooke said at the hearing in Toronto, arguing that Ford had been given ample opportunity to respond to the report before it was published.

Ford did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

The Toronto Star story, released just hours after U.S. gossip blog Gawker said it had seen a cellphone video that appeared to show Rob Ford smoking a substance from a small glass pipe, prompted a storm of media coverage in Canada and abroad.

The Star said two of its reporters had seen the video weeks before the Gawker report, and that individuals had offered to sell the video to the Star. The newspaper declined to buy it.

Ford was elected in 2010, promising to control spending and cut taxes. But he has struggled to maintain the support of city council, which has final say over most city business, and has faced criticism for issues that included skipping meetings to coach high school football and reading while driving.

Complainant Darylle Donley said Ford was being lied about in the Toronto Star report, and that "the news should be concrete and proven truth".   Continued...