Sunday, March 09, 2014
Ezra Levant's libel trial starts
Sun News Network host Ezra Levant caused "tremendous" damage to a Saskatchewan lawyer with blog posts labelling him a jihadist and a liar, the lawyer alleged Monday as his defamation lawsuit against the controversial media personality went to trial.
Khurrum Awan was completing his articling and looking for work as a lawyer when he alleges the most egregious libels were posted. He is seeking $100,000 in damages.
Levant's posts on his personal blog centred around Awan's testimony at a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal case about a complaint over an article in Maclean's magazine from 2006, titled "The future belongs to Islam." Awan was a law student when the article was published and was one of a group of students who said they were concerned the article was Islamophobic.
Awan testified Monday that seeing Levant's posts under the headline "Awan the liar" was "very upsetting."
Levant's lawyer, Iain MacKinnon, said the defence is primarily one of fair comment.
The blog posts were based upon what Levant observed over two days of Awan's testimony at the human rights tribunal in 2008 and there is a factual basis for his comments, MacKinnon said in his opening statement.
"There's no doubt Mr. Levant sometimes uses colourful language or sometimes a derisive tone," MacKinnon said. "That is perfectly allowed under the defence of fair comment."
Levant was commenting on a matter of public interest, MacKinnon said, noting Awan never asked Levant for a correction.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).