Judge dismisses journalist Laura Robinson's defamation suit against John Furlong

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      A defamation suit brought by journalist Laura Robinson against Vancouver 2010 Olympics CEO John Furlong has been dismissed by the Supreme Court of B.C.

      In a 97-page reasons for judgement released today (September 18), Justice Catherine Wedge wrote that Furlong's public statements in the wake of a 2012 Georgia Straight story written about his past as a teacher in northern B.C. were "occasions of qualified privilege" that were not "actuated by malice".

      "In the result," Wedge wrote, "Mr. Furlong's defence of qualified privilege is a full answer to Ms. Robinson's defamation claim."

      Broadly, the defence of qualified privilege allows for statements that may be defamatory to be uttered or published as long as they are in the public interest or for the public benefit and they are made without malice.

      The 2012 story contained details about Furlong's past as a Christian missionary teaching First Nations children in Burns Lake, B.C., decades ago, details that were omitted from his official biography. The story contained allegations of physical abuse committed by Furlong at the time.

      Bryan Baynham, Robinson's trial lawyer, told the Straight that he is still going through the judge's lengthy reasons for judgement. "It's too early to say whether or not we will appeal," he said from his Vancouver office.

      "We're trying to sort out what the legal ramifications are. It's not what we were hoping for, but we'll go from there.

      "It's unfortunate."

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