Freelance Journalist Laura Robinson Sticking to Claim John Furlong Defamed Her

By Keith Fraser
The Province
May 11, 2015

Freelance journalist Laura Robinson is dropping her lawsuit against former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong’s p.r. company, but is going ahead with her main allegation that he defamed her.

Freelance journalist Laura Robinson is dropping her lawsuit against the public relations company that represents John Furlong, but is proceeding with her main allegation that the former Vancouver Olympic CEO defamed her, a court was told Monday.

During a brief appearance in court, Bryan Baynham, a lawyer for Robinson, said that the parties had agreed to discontinue the case against the company TwentyTen Group, which was named as a third party in the lawsuit.

Baynham told B.C. Supreme Court Master Douglas Baker that he and Furlong’s lawyer were “very anxious” to get the case against his client scheduled for June 15 under way and to have a trial judge appointed.

Robinson alleges that she was defamed by public comments Furlong made in the wake of a September 2012 story she wrote for the Georgia Straight newspaper alleging he had physically abused a number of students he taught more than 40 years ago.

Furlong filed his own defamation suit against Robinson but later dropped the case.

Baynham said one of the issues at trial will be Robinson’s credentials as a journalist.

He said Furlong had alleged she’s an activist and not a real journalist and has an agenda and is “out to get male authority figures.”

To defend her, Baynham said he plans to call a former dean of the Ryerson School of Journalism to say that his client meets the legal test to prove she was entitled to a new defence for journalists under defamation laws called responsible communication.

He said Robinson was doing what a responsible journalist does and that is to take on the rich and powerful.

“It’s really quite outrageous what Mr. Furlong is attempting to do here, time and time again. Attack, belittle and degrade my client, who is an actual journalist.”

John Hunter, Furlong’s lawyer, said he didn’t fully understand Baynham’s comments about the defence of responsible journalism since Furlong is no longer suing Robinson.

“That’s been discontinued. That’s not the case any more. The case is simply her fighting against him for defamation. He has pleaded among other things, qualified privilege. It’s a response to an attack, which is an occasion for qualified privilege. And also fair comment.”

Hunter added that he has provided a response affidavit from someone “very well qualified” who says that Robinson did “everything wrong basically,” in terms of how she researched her story.

He said Robinson suggested answers to the questions before they were even asked, creating an environment where false allegations can be made.

Three other lawsuits alleging that Furlong sexually abused his young students at a Catholic school in Burns Lake more than 40 years ago have bitten the dust in the past few months.

In March, a lawsuit was dismissed when the plaintiff failed to appear in court and had been disrespectful to the court.

In February, another plaintiff had her case thrown out when it was discovered she had not attended the school where she alleged she’d been attacked by Furlong. And late last year, a plaintiff abandoned her lawsuit after her lawyer withdrew from the case.









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