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Date set for Kamloops councillor's effort to dismiss defamation suit

FILE PHOTO - Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson (right) and Kamloops councillor Katie Neustaeter (left) at a March 28, 2023, council meeting.

A Kamloops city councillor fired back at the mayor in court as she looks to have his lawsuit against her thrown out.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson filed a defamation suit against Coun. Katie Neustaeter last year in response to vocal criticism of his behaviour. She responded to his claim at the time, but on Tuesday she formally applied to have the lawsuit tossed entirely.

Lawyers will appear before a judge in November to hear the application and consider whether it should be dismissed before a trial even begins.

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It's commonly referred to as an anti-SLAPP application, which stands for strategic lawsuit against public participation. Defendants will use the application when they feel a lawsuit is designed to silence or intimidate critics.

It's not clear why she waited until now to file the application, nearly a year to the day after Hamer-Jackson first filed the defamation suit. She did not respond to phone calls from

READ MORE: Kamloops mayor and councillor's feud a family affair

When asked for a response to Neustaeter's application, Hamer-Jackson said it "wouldn't be happening" if she were paying her own legal fees, pointing to council's decision. It was a vote rooted in the fact that she is defending herself in a lawsuit that arose through her role on council.

Asked why she wouldn't file the application if she were paying her own legal fees, Hamer-Jackson said, "I think she would would step up and tell the truth if she was paying for her own fees like I am."

READ MORE: Kamloops mayor, councillor spill the beans in court filings

The defamation case is largely related to criticism of the mayor during a March 2023 press conference in which Neustaeter read aloud a joint statement from the eight councillors. Councillors said at the outset they would not be taking questions, then said Hamer-Jackson showed a pattern of disruptive and disrespectful behaviour at city hall.

At the time it was less than six months into what has become a turbulent and combative relationship between the mayor and the rest of council.

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