Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Alan Riddell: Libel Suit against Conservatives settled out of court

With the Mulroney Schreiber affair dominating the news this seamy episode is mostly beneath the media radar. Harper is probably fortunate in that he will not be asked embarassing questions about this matter. The squeaky clean Harper is beginning to look as if he could use some Mr. Clean and perhaps Lysol disinfectant as well.

Riddell, Alan: lifelong Conservative bullied into dropping out of race and his case for membership wins settlement

Libel suit settled out of court leaving open the question whether Stephen Harper lied

A HarperIndex.ca update. OTTAWA, November 12, 2007: The Canadian Press reported today that the federal Conservative party has quietly settled a lawsuit with Ottawa lawyer Alan Riddell, the former candidate who had accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of libel. The settlement with Riddell, a long-time Conservative activist, suggests the party decided to quietly cut its losses and announce a settlement on the Remembrance Day weekend. It makes Harper's and the party's denials of a deal all the less credible. What follows is the original HarperIndex.ca article.

OTTAWA, October 26, 2007: The Harper Conservatives remain mired in a legal battle with one of their former candidates. Legal costs have forced Ottawa lawyer Alan Riddell to drop his suit against the party for revoking his membership after he sued Stephen Harper and party president Don Plett for libel. The suit followed their denial of a deal the party made with him to withdraw his candidacy in 2006.

Riddell is going ahead with the libel suit, which is expected to go to a jury trial in February.

Riddell was dumped as a candidate in 2005, reportedly over rumours the he wore a World War II German officer's costume to a campus costume party as a student. The deal for him to step aside as a candidate was publicly denied by Harper. "There is no agreement and he hasn't been paid anything," Harper told reporters in December 2005.

In January this year Justice Denis Power of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the agreement valid and legally binding.

Earlier this month, the Ontario Superior Court upheld Stephen Harper's use of Parliamentary privilege to avoid testifying in the case. While this may ultimately enable Harper to win the case, it highlights his contradictions between Harper's stated positions on accountability and his actual practices in the realm of cleaning up politics.

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