Toronto reporter sues mayor for defamation

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TORONTO (AP) - A Toronto Star reporter sued Mayor Rob Ford on Thursday for suggesting the journalist was a pedophile in a recent television interview.

Ford appeared on a Vision TV interview with former media baron and convicted felon Conrad Black and accused Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale of taking pictures of little kids. Ford said he didn't "want to say that word but you start thinking what this guy is all about."

The day after the interview aired, Ford told reporters that he stands by his words. "I stand by every word I said with Mr. Black in my interview."

Ford's insinuation was related to an instance when Dale was close to the mayor's house in May 2012, investigating a plot of public land adjacent to Ford's home that the mayor wanted to buy.

Dale has said he was writing a story about the plot so he went to take a look at it when the mayor emerged from his home to confront him. Dale said the mayor's two children were nowhere in sight, nor were any children in sight.

Dale said he decided to take action after Ford repeated the accusations on a Washington, D.C., sports radio show Thursday, saying again that Dale was taking photos outside of his house.

Dale said Ford added this: "When you've got young kids, that freaked me right out."

"This isn't quite as egregious as the comment he made to Black, but it brought renewed attention to his malicious and defamatory insinuation to Black that I have some sort of predatory interest in young children _ that I am a pedophile. I can't tolerate it. I won't tolerate it," wrote Dale in his article published late Thursday.

Dale said the libel notice asks Ford to immediately retract the false insinuation that I am a pedophile and all of his false statements about my conduct on May 2, 2012. Dale said he is also suing Vision TV, which twice broadcast Ford's remarks to Conrad Black. Dale asks that Ford and Vision owner ZoomerMedia apologize immediately "publicly, abjectly, unreservedly and completely."

"It had become clear to me that, if I had done nothing, the mayor would make his smears some sort of political talking point. His comments to Black were no one-time slip; they seemed to be the first shots in a bewildering campaign against my good name. At a Tuesday news conference, he pointedly said he stands by "every word." Today, he repeated many of his false claims on American radio," wrote Dale.

Ford and his brother, councilor Doug Ford, have taken pointed shots at the media, calling journalists maggots. Allegations about Ford smoking crack surfaced in May when two reporters for the Toronto Star and one from the U.S. website Gawker said they saw a video of Ford appearing to smoke from a crack pipe, but they did not obtain a copy. Ford vilified the Star, accusing the paper of trying to take him down.

He admitted last month to smoking crack "in a drunken stupor."

Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke on Thursday told local broadcast TV station CP24 that the newspaper fully supports and backs Dale's lawsuit.

"(Ford) called Daniel Dale probably the worst thing you could call a man, that is a man who takes advantage of children and has sex with them. He called him a pedophile. That is a vicious, awful libel," said Cooke.

A copy of the libel notice was not immediately available. There was no immediate response from Ford or his lawyer to the suit. Vision TV has also refused requests for comment.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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