that $27 million lawsuit filed by the police union against Chief Fantino and the Toronto Sun just got curiouser.The Sun and the chief recently filed statements of defence in court suggesting that the offending story that prompted the lawsuit in the first place -- about the union's alleged hiring of a private detective to dig up dirt on Fantino -- may not be so ironclad.
The statement of defence filed by the Sun says the paper has "no information one way or the other" that Craig Bromell or the police association "participated in any surveillance of Fantino, any "dirty-tricks campaign' or any other unlawful behaviour."
Rather, the Sun says, it became aware of the allegations via information provided by unnamed sources.
And "the statements and allegations were reported by the Sun as such and without necessarily accepting the truth of the underlying statements or allegations."
The Sun's statement goes on to explain that it reported the allegations because the electorate and the public "have a real and bona fide interest in the activities of and allegations made by and concerning a public servant such as Fantino."
The chief's own statement of defence adds to the intrigue.
He says he was responding to information provided by a Sun reporter who interviewed him for the story.
He believed the information "was probably true" because "a private investigator employed by a firm known to be retained by the association was seen on two occasions carrying out surveillance in the immediate vicinity of police headquarters.
"To the extent that the words attributed to the chief were expressions of opinion," the statement adds, "they were made in good faith and without malice."
The union's own response to the chief's statement isn't buying that claim. It asserts that "Fantino was aware, or but for his own recklessness would have been aware, that the private investigation firm that he alleged was conducting surveillance on him at the insistence of the plaintiffs was in fact conducting surveillance of a target who was and is in no way connected with Fantino or the Toronto Police Service, at the insistence of a client who was in no way connected with the plaintiffs or the police association.
"Fantino was provided with an opportunity to obtain full particulars of and verify the matters set out above, but declined to avail himself of that opportunity, and thereafter published and republished and took no steps to retract or apologize for the words complained of."