Toronto

Doug Ford's ex-chief of staff withdraws libel suit against MPP Randy Hillier

Premier Doug Ford's former chief of staff has dropped a libel lawsuit he launched last month against a former Progressive Conservative legislator.

Dean French accused Hillier of libeling him after Hillier was kicked out of PC caucus

Former PC MPP Randy Hillier denied the defamation allegations in court filings. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Premier Doug Ford's former chief of staff has dropped a libel lawsuit against a former Progressive Conservative legislator, with his lawyer saying his departure from the government made the legal action pointless.

Dean French's lawyer Gavin Tighe confirmed Monday that the suit launched against Randy Hillier, who is now an independent legislator, has been dropped.

Tighe said his client was grateful to Hillier for removing what he considered defamatory messages from his social media account.

"Given that Mr. French is no longer involved with government and there were never any monetary damages sought by Mr. French personally ... there was little point in carrying on with expensive and time-consuming litigation," Tighe said in a statement.

French, who resigned from his job earlier this month, filed the suit in June alleging that shortly after Hillier was kicked off the Tory team he began a libellous and defamatory campaign against him.

He alleged that the Hillier tried to "destroy" French's reputation after being kicked out of the government caucus in March.

French alleged that shortly after being turfed from the Tory team, Hillier began a libellous and defamatory campaign against him, including a series of tweets that formed the basis of the lawsuit.

Hillier posted a series of tweets alleging French was involved in criminality and misconduct in two leadership races, one in Alberta and one in Ontario, Tighe said in the statement of claim. They were fabricated and completely unsupported allegations, he wrote.

Hillier initially apologized in a Twitter post, but in his court filings denied the defamation allegations, saying French already had a "negative reputation" before the series of tweets in question.

French was seeking $100,000 in damages, which he said would be donated to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lanark County, in Hillier's riding.

Last month, French abruptly left his job as Ford's top adviser after it first emerged that people connected to him were given lucrative foreign postings. French did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Hillier said he was happy the suit had been dropped and that the resolution of the case came with no requirement he pay any money to French or sign any confidentiality clauses regarding the matter.

"With litigation and lawsuits nothing is ever certain," he said. "They always have a little bit of a dark cloud over you when you're in the midst of them, but I was confident that it would not proceed. I'm glad that it is over and done with now."

Hillier has said he was ejected from the Tory caucus earlier this year for raising allegations of unregistered lobbying by the premier's friends and advisers. The government has dismissed his allegations as lies, and said Hillier was removed from the party because he wasn't a team player.

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