PtG Article 29.01.2014

Canadian journalist sues former Olympic CEO for defamation

Investigative journalist Laura Robinson has launched a defamation suit against John Furlong, former CEO of the Vancouver 2010 Games as the latest step in a 14-month long legal battle initiated by Furlong.

In a press statement issued Tuesday, the Canadian journalist Laura Robinson explains the civil action launched against John Furlong:

“In the action I am seeking general, aggravated and punitive damages, as well as an injunction, for the unrelenting attack by Mr. Furlong and his media advisors over the last fourteen months,” she says and further explains:

“This assault against my good name and integrity as a journalist and an author is by implication an attack against freedom of expression and the role investigative journalism plays in a free, democratic and civil society.”

Robinson’s civil claim is the latest development in a legal battle sparked by an article published in Canadian newspaper Georgia Straight in October 2012.

The story, authored by Robinson, was largely based on signed affidavits by former students, claiming they had been physically and mentally abused by Furlong when he worked as a missionary teacher at Catholic schools in Northern British Columbia. The alleged abuses have been denied by Furlong, who, following the publication of the story, filed a defamation suit against Robinson.

The dispute reached a new high when Robinson gave a speech at the Play the Game 2013 conference last autumn. Besides threatening Play the Game with litigation for allowing Robinson to speak at the conference, Furlong issued a press release named ‘Enough is enough’, where he promised to intensify the battle against Robinson.

“My defamation case against Laura Robinson will continue and be escalated – she is the perpetrator of these defamatory allegations. She continues to defame me today and this will no longer go unchallenged. Ms. Robinson has a two decade-long pattern of inaccuracy in her writing, I will file those documents to amend my legal case against her in the coming days and weeks,” Furlong wrote.

In yesterday’s press statement from Robinson, she calls the ‘Enough is enough’ statement “a media onslaught”, that “trampled my integrity as a journalist, labeling me an activist who knowingly lied in writing the story".

According to Robinson, Furlong has so far refused to set his action for trial. The Civil Claim case raised by Robinson has been set for trial on 30 March 2015.

As a freelance journalist, Robinson is not covered by the newspaper’s insurance policy and she must take care of all legal expenses on her own. Through the website ‘The Laura Robinson Defense Fund’, she is therefore seeking donations from the public for her defense.

More information

Read Laura Robinson's press release on the Civil Claim

Read the Notice of Civil Claim

Read more about the Robinson vs. Furlong case

Visit The Laura Robinson Defence Fund website