An Ontario judge who heard a defamation lawsuit against Sun News Network host Ezra Levant has ruled that he libelled a Saskatchewan lawyer in a series of blog posts.
Justice Wendy Matheson has ordered Levant to pay $80,000 in damages to Khurrum Awan and remove "defamatory words" about the man from his website within 15 days.
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Matheson found that Levant's "dominant motive" in the blog posts was "ill will."
She also found that he demonstrated a "reckless disregard for the truth."
Awan was completing his articling and looking for work as a lawyer when the statements were posted online by Levant.
Levant's posts centred on Awan's testimony at a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal case
Some of his blog posts are titled "Awan the liar," "Awan the liar part two" and so forth.
Awan's lawyer had argued that Levant had caused tremendous damage to his client with the posts, which remain online years after they were originally published.
He had said the blog posts were based upon what Levant observed over two days of Awan's testimony at the human rights tribunal and were comments on a matter of public interest.
But Matheson found that at trial, Levant "repeatedly tried to minimize his mistakes and his lack of diligence."
"The defendant makes a general assertion that none of the words complained of were defamatory due to the defendant's reputation," she wrote. "There is, however, ample evidence before me demonstrating express malice on the part of the defendant."
Levant also appeared to have little regard for the facts, Matheson found.
"He did little or no fact-checking regarding the posts complained of, either before or after their publication....and with one exception, when he learned that he got his facts wrong, he made no corrections," she wrote.
The fact that Levant himself is a lawyer ought to have made him aware of the "serious ramifications" of his words on Awan's reputation, Matheson added.
"Yet, at trial, he repeatedly tried to minimize his mistakes and his lack of diligence," she wrote.
Levant, meanwhile, wrote on his website that he is reviewing the ruling with his lawyer but plans to appeal "all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary."
He called the ruling a "shocking case of libel chill" and asked supporters to help him foot the bill for his appeal, which he estimates will cost at least $30,000.