Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown sends notice of libel to CTV News

Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown sent a notice of libel to Bell Media, the parent company of CTV News, late Friday night, CBC News has learned.

Brown accuses CTV of 'false, malicious, irresponsible and defamatory' reporting

Ontario PC Leadership candidate Patrick Brown, seen on Feb. 20, had said he wants a 'full apology' from CTV News and a retraction of a CTV story he says is defamatory. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown sent a notice of libel to Bell Media, the parent company of CTV News, late Friday night, CBC News has learned. 

Brown resigned his leadership post abruptly on Jan. 24 hours after a CTV News report emerged in which he was accused of sexual misconduct by two women dating back to when he was a federal MP in the Barrie, Ont., area. 

Howard Winkler, among the team representing Brown, confirmed that CTV had received notice. 

In the notice, Brown alleges CTV engaged in "false, malicious, irresponsible and defamatory" reporting on its national newscast as well as its news website. The notice names the CTV Television Network, its parent Bell Media Inc., as well as several journalists, some named and some unknown, who worked on the stories.

A notice of libel must be issued before any formal lawsuit can proceed. It provides an opportunity for those accused of the libel to apologize, or apologize and retract the statements in question. The notice has to be delivered within six weeks of the plaintiff first hearing of the alleged libel. 

Brown has denied the accusations made in the CTV report from the outset and was allowed to enter the party's leadership contest earlier this week.

The former Opposition leader, who had been kicked out of party caucus by interim leader Vic Fedeli, will contest the party's leadership race along with Caroline Mulroney, Christine Elliott, Doug Ford and Tanya Granic Allen.

CTV 'stands by its reporting'

In mid-February, it was reported that one of the women, who alleges Brown asked her to perform oral sex on him, had revised some details of her story outlining her allegations against Brown. 

CTV originally said she was in high school and under the legal drinking age at the time when they met at a bar on the night in question, but later said she was in fact out of high school and was of legal drinking age. 

"In the court of public opinion and among the many journalists I've spoken to, these allegations are now seen for what they are — fictitious and malicious," Brown wrote in a Facebook post when that revision was made public. 

The woman's lawyer dismissed it as a "collateral matter" and said the accuser "stands by the truth of the core allegation."  

In his libel notice, Brown denies engaging in sexual misconduct or providing alcohol to someone under the age of 19. Brown is demanding an apology and retraction from CTV News. 

In a brief statement issued early Saturday, CTV acknowledged it has received the notice.

"CTV News stands by its reporting and will actively defend its journalism in court," it said.