Kamloops mayor files defamation suit against local developer | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops mayor files defamation suit against local developer

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Reid Hamer-Jackson

The mayor of Kamloops has filed his second defamation suit in barely a year, this time against a local developer.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson claims Joshua Knaak defamed him at a local bar last year.

He filed the lawsuit on June 21 recounting an exchange between the two at the Blue Grotto after a Kamloops Blazers playoff game.

"I heard you have been groping women on the dance floor," Knaak said to Hamer-Jackson, according to the notice of claim.

Knaak went on to "verbally publish defamatory statements" in which he said the mayor "grabbed" or "touched" his wife's behind in January 2023.

"My wife is on her way here, if you could keep your hands off her tonight, that would be great," the claim quotes Knaak as saying.

The conversation wasn't just between Hamer-Jackson and Knaak but also a group of others people both of them knew at the bar, according to the claim.

According to Hamer-Jackson's claim in BC Supreme Court, Knaak has "repeated" the claims to others "in writing," but it's not clear whether they were published widely or spoken to other people in private communications.

"The particulars of those further instances of slander and libel are known by Mr. Knaack (sic) but not currently known by the plaintiff," the claim reads.

While Hamer-Jackson denies he was groping women, including Knaak's wife, his notice of claim suggests Knaak has continued to tell people of the incidents because he's an outspoken critic of the mayor.

The mayor claims, however, that Knaak's "slander" has been heard and read by "many persons" in Kamloops and throughout BC. They "continue to cause serious reputation harm" to Hamer-Jackson, according to the claim.

"Mr. Knaack (sic) has been an outspoken and irresponsible critic of Mayor Hamer-Jackson and the Knaack (sic) slander and subsequent publications were published by him in furtherance of his campaign against Mayor Hamer-Jackson and were not publications made honestly, in good faith or for any bona fide purpose," Hamer-Jackson said in the claim.

It's now the second defamation suit the mayor has launched during his term in office, with the first filed against fellow council member Katie Neustaeter.

In it Hamer-Jackson largely points to a March 2023 joint council statement, read aloud by Neustaeter, that accuses the mayor of "breaching personal boundaries."

The non-specific claim from the press conference was later connected to Hamer-Jackson's communications with Neustaeter's father, and former MLA Kevin Krueger.

A year to the day after Hamer-Jackson filed that defamation suit, Neustaeter filed an anti-SLAPP application to the court. It's a process that would see the court dismiss Hamer-Jackson's civil suit entirely if it's seen as a claim merely meant to silence critics.

Knaak said he would not comment on the new lawsuit, but he would be responding in court.

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