John Furlong backs off defamation suit against Georgia Straight

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      The former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, John Furlong, won’t proceed with a defamation suit against the Georgia Straight, publisher and editor Dan McLeod, and editor Charlie Smith.

      Less than a year after filing his claim in B.C. Supreme Court—and before the case had reached examination for discovery—Furlong filed a notice of discontinuance in B.C. Supreme Court on October 29.

      The article that sparked the suit, by freelance writer Laura Robinson, revealed that Furlong moved to Burns Lake in 1969 as a Christian Apostle. He worked as a gym teacher at Immaculata Elementary School, and eight former students have sworn affidavits alleging that they either experienced or witnessed physical abuse.

      “In our opinion, this notice of discontinuance represents a complete vindication of the Georgia Straight’s position that the article was a responsible communication on matters of public interest—a defence recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2009,” McLeod said.

      Furlong is continuing with his defamation claim against Robinson.


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      Oct 30, 2013 at 10:33am

      I am happy for the Straight. Disgusted with Laura Robinson.Hopefully now you will only employ deserving,qualified and responsible individuals to represent your paper.

      Bob Bobob

      Oct 30, 2013 at 10:47am

      Or its simply easier to focus on one litigation at one time. Once the suit against Robinson is completed, depending on its outcome, it may be much easier to prosecute a defamation suit against the Straight.
      I don't think I'd be patting myself on the back this soon.

      Bill Barilko

      Oct 30, 2013 at 12:31pm

      Bob-have you ever met a lawyer-ever?


      Oct 30, 2013 at 1:08pm

      It seemed to me that the information uncovered by Robinson was legitimate journalism in the public interest.

      It is possible that her sources fabricated their stories for their own purposes, but Robinson simply reported their sworn statements and found that Furlong has deliberately tried to conceal the truth of his early days in Canada in his book when the alleged events occurred. This raises some suspicious flags at the very least.

      Let the courts sort this out, with clarity, facts and fair judgement. If Furlong is innocent then let his name be rightfully cleared and those who have lied about him be punished. If Furlong is not innocent, then let the truth come out.

      He does not deserve a free pass where anyone else would not get one simply because he is wealthy and incredibly well connected. Truth and justice should work the same way for everyone.


      Oct 30, 2013 at 2:58pm


      How was Laura Robinson undeserving, unqualified, and irresponsible?

      Personally, I don't read much stuff about celebrities's personal lives because I don't feel it is relevant, and sometimes has stripped me of enjoying their work - thinking of Michael Jackson as a musician is now like thinking of Hermann Goering as an art collector.

      But if this is a legit field of news, then Laura Robinson did a good job. She got a tip, she followed it up, wrote it very well, and the Straight to its extreme credit put it into print, probably knowing that lawsuits would follow.

      This is what happens when you write your autobiography, and in particular when your autobiography is self-serving whitewash.

      Steven Threndyle

      Oct 30, 2013 at 7:33pm

      Will The Straight let its readers know if they intend on covering Ms Robinson's legal bills and if not, why?


      Oct 30, 2013 at 7:47pm

      Cornered animals always fight back and that includes Furlong. As far as I can tell, he's lying through his teeth and I don't believe a word he says.

      Admiral Benbow's Arms

      Oct 30, 2013 at 7:54pm

      So does this means that Fulong's lawyers are in fact throwing in the towel because in court they don't really have a viable case and never did, or was it perhaps the countersuit had actually been a bluff and a scare tactic all along, whereby Fulong's lawyers had been using a "strong offence" disguised as a defence but which had actually lacked validity meaning that they really had no case? I think both.

      Of course that rather pesky law about "being innocent until proven guilty" was fortunately still in effect the last time I checked.

      Johnny Wishbone

      Oct 30, 2013 at 8:01pm

      I saw Furong's autobiography going for $0.99. Seems over priced. Could be a collector's item though if you get get it autographed. LOL

      Pat Crowe

      Oct 30, 2013 at 8:05pm

      Breathe deep, Charlie.
      Could of gone either way.
      Sounds to me like John has had enough and just wants to move forward. Losing your wife tragically like he did could knock a guy down pretty hard.
      Of the era. Many P E teachers were sadistic jerks at times. Historical context and memory are factors to consider as well I believe. I am inclined to pity the guy now. That is, unless the basest of accusations are true. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But guilty by media, Charlie. That is not right.