Calgary

Arthur Kent trial hears 'steps taken' to remove contentious column

The editor of the Calgary Herald testified Thursday that steps were taken to remove from the web a contentious article that led to a lawsuit by former television journalist Arthur Kent.

'Online you would not be able to find it,' says Herald editor

Former TV journalist Arthur Kent was awarded $250,000 in legal costs by an Alberta judge, stemming from his successful defamation against Postmedia. Kent has asked for $1 million. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The editor of the Calgary Herald testified Thursday that steps were taken to remove from the web a contentious article that led to a lawsuit by former television journalist Arthur Kent.

Lorne Motley said the Herald's parent company, Postmedia, attempted to suppress the 2008 column written by Don Martin on its websites as well as in its Infomart archives after Kent filed his suit and demanded the article be taken down.

"The story should be very difficult to search or call up," Motley told a defamation trial Thursday.

"You really shouldn't see anything on Infomart. There would be a notation saying why it's being restricted.

"Online you would not be able to find it."

Article re-emerged

Court has already heard that the article suddenly re-emerged in 2012 on the Ottawa Citizen's home page, as well as on websites of other papers across the Postmedia network.

Kent described it as a "Lazarus article." He testified that he complained to an editor at the Citizen, who agreed to take it down, but the column was resurrected within a day.

Motley acknowledged that had happened.

"The article was dealt with by employees who did not know the litigation that was ongoing between the parties. When those familiar with the litigation became familiar over what happened, there was a decision to unsuppress the column," Motley said.

Kent's lawyer, Kent Jesse, argued that the reposting was an effort to put pressure on Kent to move the lawsuit along.

Reposted with motive?

He pointed to earlier Motley testimony which said Postmedia had tendered an offer to Kent.

"I have a very difficult time answering that question because I don't know the answer. But I also know that I am not to say anything about that in this court, so you're putting me in an awkward position," Motley replied.

Kent, who was nicknamed the "Scud Stud" for his reporting on the Gulf War for NBC, is suing Postmedia, the National Post and Martin for the piece that referred to Kent as a "dud" while he was campaigning for a seat in the Alberta legislature.

The piece portrayed him as an out-of-control star candidate facing a revolt from his election team.

Several versions

Jesse questioned whether all versions of the Martin article had been suppressed by Postmedia.

He said there were several versions ranging in length from 722 words to 778 and all had different ID numbers.

"I would suggest to you that this demonstrates there were at least six versions of the Martin article that were posted or
available on the media defendants' websites," said Jesse.

Motley replied that there were only two versions — the one that was printed in the Calgary Herald and the other that was carried by the National Post.

"The National Post removed some wording of what they published in print," Motley said.

"They are the same article. It is the same story."

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