Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale says he was reluctant to start legal action against Rob Ford, but feels it's the only way to stop the mayor from telling "lies" about him.
Dale appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Friday and told host Matt Galloway he originally did not want to take legal action against Ford for comments in a television interview with Conrad Black that aired Monday on Vision TV.
Daniel Dale on the incident at Rob Ford's house
Metro Morning host Matt Galloway asked Daniel Dale about his actions on that night in May 2012 when Rob Ford confronted the Toronto Star reporter outside the mayor's house.
Here's what Dale had to say about Ford's version of events that night:
That Dale was in the mayor's backyard. "I was in a public park adjacent to his house."
That Dale "took pictures" of Ford's kids? "I saw or heard no children. It's a tall fence back there. Very hard to see over, not that I tried. I did not hear the sounds of children and I very much do not believe that they were out."
That he stood on bricks or cinder blocks to either peer over, or take pictures over, Ford's backyard fence. "I never stood on anything but the grass of this park behind the house. I never even saw these cinder blocks until the mayor led reporters on that tour later that night, and they appeared on CP24 and other TV stations. The first time I saw them was on TV."
But when Ford made similar comments Thursday in an appearance on a Washington, D.C.-based sports show, Dale said he felt compelled to respond.
"It seemed clear that [Ford's] comments to Black were not one of his one-time slips of a tongue. This was some sort of bizarre campaign against my reputation and I just decided that that's not something I could tolerate."
Dale's lawyers served Ford with libel notice on Thursday.
In the Vision TV interview, Ford told Black that Dale had perpetrated the worst invasion of his privacy during a May 2012 incident.
"Daniel Dale is in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids. He's taking pictures of little kids," Ford told Black, the former media baron and convicted felon. "I don't want to say that word, but you start thinking what this guy is all about."
Although Ford did not use the word "pedophilia" in the interview, many took that to be his insinuation.
Dale maintains he was writing a story about a plot of public land adjacent to Ford's house that the mayor wanted to buy, so he went to take a look when the mayor emerged from his home to confront him.
On the Washington-based Sports Junkies radio program on Thursday, Ford said, "When you've got young kids, that freaked me right out."
Dale said that at no time did he ever take any photographs of the mayor's family, house or property, and a police investigation bore that out.
Dale also said that although Ford didn’t directly accuse him of being a pedophile, that's the meaning most people took from Ford's comments.
"I believe it's clear to any reasonable person that [Ford] was insinuating that I'm a pedophile or some sort of predator that has an undue interest in children," said Dale. "Even though he did not use the word, it was the plain, ordinary meaning."
Reporter will continue to cover City Hall
Dale said he believes he can continue to cover City Hall for the Star despite the legal action, which the newspaper is paying for.
"Reporters do their work in public," said Dale, and added that if his reporting shows a bias, "it will be clear to everyone."
Dale also said his name will now forever be unfairly linked with pedophilia in internet searches of his name.
"I had nice Google results and now they're not so nice," he said.
The libel notice is the first step in the process of suing for defamation. If Ford refuses to apologize and withdraw the comments, Dale said, the mayor would have to be prepared to "repeat his lies under penalty of perjury" in a courtroom.
ZoomerMedia, which owns Vision TV, posted a statement on the website for its radio station AM740. Video of Black's interview with Ford has been pulled from Zoomer's website.
"As there is now the threat of legal action, ZoomerMedia will not be making a statement until such time as we can consult with our attorneys to consider the allegations and determine next steps," the statement said.
Also late Thursday, Black told The Canadian Press that Dale was on thin ice with the action.
"If the Star goes to court with this turkey, they'll be killed," Black said in an email. "They raised the pedophilia question; Ford didn't."