NEWS
07/08/2015 14:09 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 01:12 EDT

Prize-winning reporter accuses Star of suppressing Franklin expedition story

TORONTO — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Watson says he has quit the Toronto Star for what he calls its "refusal" to publish a story about last year's discovery of a ship in the Arctic.

In a blog post, Watson writes that federal civil servants and others involved in searching for Sir John Franklin's lost ships are accusing an expedition member of spreading "distorted and inaccurate accounts."

He says that person has access to the prime minister's office — and editors at the Star.

Star spokesman Bob Hepburn will only say the newspaper has a strong track record of reporting information in the public interest.

Hepburn says the Star does not suppress such stories.

The Canadian Press is jointly owned by Torstar and the parent companies of the Globe and Mail and Montreal's La Presse.

Watson says resigning was the only way he could resume reporting the Franklin story.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last year that the Canadian search team found the wreck of one of two lost ships from Franklin's doomed 1845 expedition in search of a Northwest Passage, then again announced weeks later the ship was in fact HMS Erebus.

HMS Terror and HMS Erebus were the subject of many searches throughout the 19th century but the mystery of exactly what happened to Franklin and his men has never been solved.

The Conservatives have made Arctic sovereignty a key theme since coming to power in 2006. Harper said last year the Franklin search was part and parcel of asserting Canada's control over its North.

The Canadian Press