Grocery store worker denies 'spurious and vindictive' defamation claims from his union

A Vancouver grocery store employee whose union has accused him of unlawfully breaching a membership database and defaming union leaders says he "denies each and every allegation."

Jason Buckle was accused of unlawfully breaching UFCW database and spreading defamatory claims

Jason Buckle denies unlawfully downloading the contents of a union database. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

A Vancouver grocery store employee whose union has accused him of unlawfully breaching a membership database and defaming union leaders says he "denies each and every allegation."

Jason Buckle filed a response last week to a lawsuit from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1518 (UFCW), vigorously contesting the union's accusations.

"The allegations against Buckle contained in the notice of claim are wholly unsupported by fact, spurious and vindictive," the response says.

Buckle, who works at Urban Fare in Yaletown, says he will be asking for repayment of his legal costs for defending himself.

UFCW filed a lawsuit against Buckle and 10 unnamed John Does in B.C. Supreme Court in September, alleging they had "engaged in a campaign of vilification of the plaintiffs for the predominant purpose of destroying, diminishing or undermining their reputation."

The claim accuses Buckle and the unnamed defendants of accessing the union database, unsubscribing 700 UFCW members, and downloading the contact information of everyone in the database to spread false claims about union president Ivan Limpright, secretary-treasurer Kim Novak, and executive assistant to the president Patrick Johnson.

Buckle denies forging letter

The union's statement of claim does not indicate why Buckle is under suspicion, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

In his response, Buckle says he "denies each and every allegation contained in the notice of claim and puts the plaintiff to the strict proof thereof."

Jason Buckle says he'll seek costs for defending himself against the union's lawsuit. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

The union lawsuit also includes claims that Buckle forged a letter alleging union leaders accepted a secret bribe of $5.9 million from Safeway — and that he registered a website and three email addresses to spread defamatory allegations about "backroom dealing" between the UFCW and the grocery giant.

But Buckle doesn't deny that he received a copy of the allegedly forged letter, and posted it on the bulletin board at the Urban Fare where he works. He says he gave another copy of the letter to an employee at a Safeway in Burnaby.

"Buckle was unaware and remains unaware of the identities of any individuals involved in drafting either document," his response reads.

"Buckle was further unaware and remains unaware of the veracity of any claims contained within the documents."

The union has said it will not comment on the lawsuit while it's before the courts. A UFCW spokesperson said she could not speak to whether union members were informed of the alleged database breach.