Former PM Mulroney suing author over tapes

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney has filed a lawsuit against author Peter C. Newman over his latest book, 'The Secret Mulroney Tapes.'

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney has filed a lawsuit against author Peter C. Newman over his latest book.

Mulroney is disputing the ownership of the tapes Newman made of dozens of conversations between the two men when Mulroney was in office. Mulroney also wants to direct where any profits from the tapes should be distributed.

The tapes formed the basis of Newman's The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister, as well as a 90-minute CBC documentary that was broadcast on Monday night, splicing excerpts from the tape with commentary from Newman.

The former prime minister knew Newman was taping their conversations and has never challenged the book's accuracy. He had no plans for legal action when the book was released in September, a spokesperson said at the time.

But in a lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court Wednesday, Mulroney demands that:

  • Newman cease any future plans to print or broadcast the tapes, with the court imposing a permanent injunction to ensure he doesn't.
  • Any money Newman has already made from the tapes be donated to two hospitals in Toronto and Montreal.
  • The tapes be turned over to Library and Archives Canada.
Mulroney's suit argues that Newman broke the terms of a written deal between the two men about how the tapes should be used, as well as what would happen to them if Newman did not produce the "scholarly and serious" biography of him that Mulroney expected.

The allegations in Mulroney's 14-page statement of claim have not been proven in court.

Mulroney says Newman betrayed their friendship, which went back to 1961.

Newman published what the lawsuit documents call a "scandalous" book based on raw transcripts from the tapes.

In the conversations, Mulroney speaks openly and sometimes in vulgar terms about major events in the recent history of Canada, former colleagues, political foes and the media.

Mulroney was Progressive Conservative prime minister from 1984 to 1993.

This is the second time this month that legal action has been launched against Newman by a high-profile figure.

Financier Conrad Black had court papers served to Newman on Nov. 14 over a description of Black's legal woes in Newman's 2004 autobiography, There Be Dragons.