Calgary

Arthur Kent wants $1.2M from Postmedia for defamation legal fees

Arthur Kent wants Postmedia to pay $1.2 million in legal bills following an eight-year saga that ended earlier this year with a Calgary judge finding Canada's largest newspaper chain, and its columnist Don Martin, defamed the former war correspondent in a 2008 article.

Judge ordered $200K payment for 2008 Postmedia article on former journalist

Arthur Kent is asking a judge to order Postmedia to pay his legal bills that he says amount to $1.2 million after Canada's largest newspaper chain was found to have defamed the former journalist. Postmedia has already paid Kent $260,000 in damages. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Arthur Kent wants Postmedia to pay $1.2 million in legal bills following an eight-year saga that ended earlier this year with a Calgary judge finding Canada's largest newspaper chain, and its columnist Don Martin, defamed the former war correspondent in a 2008 article.   

"Access to justice has a price and it's a high one," said Kent.

Postmedia has already paid $260,000 to Kent in damages and interest but Kent's lawyer Michael Bates argued Thursday afternoon that Postmedia should pay his client's legal bills.

The newspaper chain says Kent should only awarded about $90,000.

In June, Justice Jo'Anne Strekaf found Kent suffered "substantial distress and damage as a result of the defamatory factual statements" and awarded him $200,000 in general damages — $150,000 in general damages from Martin and Postmedia and another $50,000 from Postmedia for continuing to keep Martin's column online, plus about $60,000 in interest.

The article was written during Kent's failed bid for a seat as a Progressive Conservative in the 2008 Alberta election.

In the column, Kent was described as having an oversized ego and an unorganized and incompetent campaign. He claimed that article injured his reputation, character and credibility.

Kent was nicknamed the "Scud Stud" for his reporting for the American network NBC during the Persian Gulf War. In 2008, Martin, who was a columnist for the National Post at the time, wrote about Kent's campaign in the riding of Calgary-Currie in which he referred to Kent as the "Scud Dud."

Postmedia argued Kent's proposed legal costs are unreasonable and that Kent was, in part, to blame for the duration of the legal proceedings.

"There's no doubt the extension ... was a direct factor of the manner in which the plaintiff carried out the lawsuit," said Postmedia lawyer, Brent Mescall.

Another factor that should keep the judge from awarding Kent $1.2 million was that Postmedia was not found to have malice in publishing the article.

'I could almost be accused of trying to protect them from themselves'

On Thursday, Strekaf also heard an application by Kent to have a permanent injunction ordered that would see Postmedia and Martin banned from ever posting the 2008 article.

"My goodness, I could almost be accused of trying to protect them from themselves," said Kent.

But Postmedia lawyers argued the defamatory article has not been accessible to the public since 2012 so there was no need for a permanent injunction.

"There is no evidence ... that there would be any republishing of the article," said Mescall.

Arguments did not finish on Thursday and will continue next week.

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