POLITICS

National Post appeals $50,000 libel suit launched by B.C. environmentalist

03/12/2015 03:32 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - The National Post is appealing a defamation ruling that ordered it to pay $50,000 to a British Columbia environmentalist-turned-politician.

Andrew Weaver successfully sued the newspaper, its publisher and several writers over four columns that were published in late 2009 and early 2010. The paper was also ordered to publish a full retraction and remove the content from it website.

At the time, Weaver was a University of Victoria professor who had participated in a U.N. panel on climate change, though now he is a Green party member of B.C.'s legislature.

Weaver alleged the columns implied that he tried to divert public attention from a scandal involving the climate-change panel by linking the fossil fuel industry to break-ins at his office. In 2009, hackers leaked thousands of emails from a British climate centre in a scandal that became known as "Climategate."

Weaver also alleged that the columns had falsely implied he distorted and concealed scientific data in exchange for government funding.

During the previous case, the newspaper argued the articles were about Weaver's public actions and words, not his character, and said they amounted to fair comment.

The judge rejected the fair comment defence and concluded the writers were "careless or indifferent to the accuracy of the facts."

The Post filed a notice with the B.C. Court of Appeal last week asking that the decision be overturned, though the document does not outline the legal arguments the paper intends to make.

In an article published Tuesday by the newspaper, editor Anne Marie Owens said “the case raises some important issues and we respectfully believe the judge fell into error.”

Weaver could not be immediately reached for comment.