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Journalist won't appeal lost decision in defamation suit against John Furlong

Former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong and Renee Smith-Valade leave B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on June 15, 2015. British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge has released her written decision in a defamation lawsuit filed by freelance journalist Laura Robinson. Wedge said she found no evidence that Furlong was motivated by malice and accepted his defence of qualified privilege, meaning he had the right to defend his reputation.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
October 20, 2015 - 9:30 AM

VANCOUVER - A freelance journalist who lost her defamation lawsuit against former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong says she will not appeal the ruling.

Laura Robinson said she reached the decision after reflection and discussion with her family and in spite of advice from independent legal counsel who say the judge made errors in fact and law.

Robinson had accused Furlong of defaming her in public statements he made after she wrote a 2012 article that contained abuse allegations from First Nations students at a B.C. school where he taught more than four decades ago.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge released a searing judgment last month that found Furlong had a right to defend himself from Robinson's articles, which the judge called an "attack" on his character, conduct and credibility.

Robinson said continuing the court battle would not accomplish her original goal of listening to indigenous people and she is launching a website called justtrylistening.org as part of an ongoing effort to meet that objective.

"Reconciliation is about meeting people in their own communities and listening," she said in a statement. "Indigenous people everywhere deserve this commitment. Moving forward only happens by understanding the past."

She said the past three years have had a huge impact on her health, but she feels honoured to be trusted by First Nations and there is still a "chasm" between the reality of their lives and how non-Native people see them.

Furlong said in a statement that he was pleased Robinson was not appealing. He said Wedge's decision followed two previous B.C. Supreme Court decisions that tossed lawsuits filed by people who accused him of sexual abuse. He has vehemently denied all allegations of abuse.

"I thank my family, my friends, my legal team and Canadians for their support during this ordeal. Now that this nightmare is finally over, I am looking forward to putting my energy and passion into building Canadian sport and rebuilding my career," he said.

Furlong said he has asked his lawyers to actively consider seeking costs from Robinson.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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