Toronto Mayor Rob Ford issued a second apology late Wednesday, retracting in more detail statements he made earlier regarding Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale that had prompted legal action.
"I wholly retract my statements and apologize to Mr. Dale without reservation for what I said," Ford said in a statement.
"There is absolutely no basis for the statement I made about Daniel Dale taking pictures of children or any insinuations I made," Ford added.
Ford went on to retract other statements, including that Dale had been found "lurking" or "leering" near his property.
Within minutes, Dale indicated via Twitter he was dropping his legal action against Ford.
"I won't be taking legal action against the mayor, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work," said Dale.
Ford made his controversial remarks during an interview on Vision TV with former media baron Conrad Black.
During that interview, Ford seemed to hint Dale was a pedophile. He claimed Dale was once found in his backyard, taking pictures of Ford's children.
"He's taking pictures of little kids," Ford told Black. "I don't want to say that word, but you start thinking what this guy is all about."
Those remarks prompted legal action from Dale, paid for by the Star.
Ford issued an apology earlier this week, though Dale deemed it "unsatisfactory," insisting Ford had to take back other, specific statements in order to avoid a defamation lawsuit.
Ford's second apology, copies of which were handed out to reporters at city hall on Wednesday evening, addressed those points in detail. As well as retracting his claim that Dale had taken pictures of his children, Ford took back his statement that Dale had been found atop cinder blocks, peering over Ford's fence.
Ford and Dale crossed paths in May 2012 when Dale was in the area of Ford's house, researching a story about adjacent parkland that Ford was looking to purchase.
"There is no basis for saying as I did … that Mr. Dale was 'lurking' or 'leering' near or over my fence or behaving surreptitiously and I should not have said that," Ford said in the statement.
"There was no basis for me to say that Mr. Dale was ever in my backyard or on my property," he added.
"Accordingly, I apologize to Mr. Dale for the inaccurate manner in which I described the incident."
Vision TV's parent company also apologized later that evening.
"We have always believed that this was primarily a matter between Mr. Dale and Mr. Ford," Toronto-based ZoomerMedia said in a statement. "However, we sincerely regret the part ZoomerMedia played in broadcasting the offending words spoken by Mr. Ford, and apologize."
Dale said he will drop his action against the channel too, though he remarked it is "hard to understand how the mayor's comments made it to air."
A year of distractions
The latest legal action is just the latest distraction this year for Ford, who has otherwise drawn attention for many admissions and apologies he had made since the start of November.
Last month, the mayor admitted to having smoked crack cocaine, after denying that same thing since May.
Ford also admitted to drinking to excess and to buying illegal drugs while serving in office.
He offered apologies for those and other odd behaviours, including a lewd remark made during a scrum with reporters as well as an incident in which he bowled over a city councillor at Toronto City Hall.
There was also a bizarre video that surfaced, which showed Ford ranting and swearing. The Star paid to obtain it and published it online. In the wake of all of these developments, council moved to strip Ford of selected mayoral powers.
But Ford, 44, has insisted that he will seek a second term as mayor in next year’s municipal election.
Ford previously served as a city councillor in a west-end Toronto suburb where he lives with his family.