Court of Appeal overturns defamation decision

A New Brunswick cartoonist has won his appeal against a former teacher who has questioned the Holocaust.

Malcolm Ross sued cartoonist Josh Beutel in 1993 for using a cartoon to compare Ross to a Nazi. On Thursday New Brunswick's highest court ruled in favour of Beutel.

This case started in 1993 when Josh Beutel gave a presentation to a teachers' conference. One of his cartoons compared Malcolm Ross to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

Ross sued Beutel for defamation and won $7,500.

The New Brunswick Court of Appeal threw out that decision on Thursday. The court said cartoons are satire; they exaggerate, and a reasonable person would know that. That meant the cartoon was fair comment.

Beutel says it's a victory for freedom of expression. "I've always maintained first of all that Ross should be free to express his opinions, regardless of how off-base they may be, so it's never a case of me looking to shut him up," he says. "But the same thing would apply to me."

The court ordered Ross to pay Beutel $5,000 for his legal costs.

Malcolm Ross and his lawyer, Doug Christie, couldn't be reached for comment.