TORONTO — Lawyers for CTV News say the network did nothing wrong in reporting allegations of sexual misconduct against the former leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party.
In a statement of defence served to Patrick Brown, CTV denies allegations laid out in a defamation lawsuit the former Tory leader launched in April. The statement was first published Saturday by the website Canadaland.
In his statement of claim, Brown alleged the network and several journalists involved in the story acted maliciously and irresponsibly in publishing what he characterizes as false accusations brought forward by two women.
Lawyers for CTV deny those allegations and say Brown is not entitled to the $8 million in damages he is seeking.
"The Named Defendants explicitly deny that the words complained of were falsely and maliciously broadcast or published,'' the statement of defence says.
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The legal battle comes months after CTV News aired its initial report about the alleged misconduct, which prompted Brown to step down from his post as head of the provincial Tories.
A lawyer for Brown said Saturday he looks forward to "pursuing this litigation on behalf of Mr. Brown and to further his efforts to vindicate his reputation and seek appropriate compensation for the harm done to him.''
A spokesman for CTV said the statement of defence will be filed Monday, and that the network had no further comment.
The statement of defence provides a window into CTV's investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations, as well as more insight into the network's process of trying to verify the two women's accounts.
According to the document, allegations were brought forward to former CP24 reporter Travis Dhanraj in July 2017 and November 2017.
The first tip that Dhanraj received alleged that Brown had "engaged in some sort of sexual misconduct/harassment'' against a female staffer on Parliament Hill while he was serving as an MP.
Ultimately, Dhanraj passed the investigation to CTV's Ottawa Bureau, which the network's statement said "had more appropriate resources to pursue the story.'' The statement also says the Ottawa bureau "had been made aware of other, similar allegations about Brown,'' and was conducting its own investigation.
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The statement of defence says CTV's story was in the public interest as Brown is a politician who was, at the time, seeking to become the premier of Ontario. It also says the network gave Brown a fair amount of time to respond to a request for comment.
Brown announced in May that he would be writing a tell-all book about what he describes as his "political assassination.''
Since the story broke in January, Brown has vehemently denied the allegations, which have not been independently verified by The Canadian Press, saying there are discrepancies in the women's stories.
Currently, Brown is attempting a political comeback. He's announced he's running to become chair of Peel Region.