A video purporting to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine is losing more credibility by the day, the city's deputy mayor says, following reports from a U.S. gossip website that the alleged video may now be "gone."
"I think the longer they go without any video, the less credibility the whole thing has," Doug Holyday told CBC News in a phone interview.
"It really makes you wonder right from the outset what’s been going on here."
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On Wednesday, John Cook, the editor of the U.S. gossip website Gawker which has led an online campaign to purchase the alleged video, said his main contact fears the footage is "gone" and that the media attention may have scared the owner away.
Gawker has raised over $200,000, the alleged asking price that the so-called drug dealers wanted for the video.
"Gawker claims to have raised the $200,000 and dope dealers kill each other for $500 – how the heck could they walk away from $200,000?" Holyday asked.
He questioned why the owners of the purported video didn’t try any of the other dozens of media organizations that would have been interested in the video.
"And not one of them has ever heard from these people or had an opportunity to see the video or certainly been offered to buy it. It doesn’t add up," Holyday said. "Drug dealers are drug dealers. They do things to make money. It’s not just done for a lark. So if they tried to sell it to somebody and they didn’t buy it, what would ever prevent them from going to somebody else."
Both Gawker and the Toronto Star claim some of their staffers have viewed the video, which allegedly shows Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. Ford initially dismissed the allegations and later denied that the video even exists.
Holyday, who said he spoke to Robyn Doolittle, one of the Toronto Star reporters who claimed to have seen the video, said he doesn’t believe she would have made the story up.
"I have believed Robyn Doolittle because she told me face to face and I think she’s an honourable person, that she saw a video. I can tell you as time goes on, and the more I think about what’s happened, the more a stretch this story becomes."
Holyday said it's possible that the reporters saw a video that was faked.
"We don't know. We don't know and that's the part of it — that the Toronto Star would have a front page story and cause all this consternation and they don’t have the proof in their hands," he said.
"This so-called evidence whatever they’re basing it on, would not carry the day in a court case."
Holyday seemed to question the opinion of a number of video experts who have said it would be difficult to fake such a video.
"Oh, I don’t know about that. I heard an expert right on CBC that told what they would have to do to tell if it was fake. They said they needed the equipment that was used to do it with and they needed the tape themselves to see if it was edited or spliced.
"If they could detect it then somebody could produce it," he said.