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Restaurateur in Mayor Ford’s $6M libel trial finishes testifying

The restaurateur suing Mayor Rob Ford for $6 million for defamation wrapped up his testimony Thursday and insisted a politician shouldn’t be allowed to accuse a private citizen of being corrupt without sufficient evidence to back up the claim.

George Foulidis owns Tuggs Inc., which operates the Boardwalk restaurant in the Beaches. The restaurant at Woodbine Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard enjoys the exclusive right to sell food and drinks in the busy area.

While on the mayoral campaign trail in the summer of 2010, Ford told the Toronto Sun a 20-year deal Foulidis renewed with the city “stinks to high heaven,” and the article suggested he had described the deal as corrupt.

Ford was expected to testify Thursday, but instead led the high school football team he coaches, the Don Bosco Eagles, to a city championship.  According to Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor informed the court he would be unable to attend and it was approved.

“From what I understand, the judge approved all this,” he said.

“He supports youth athletics. He’s committed, he’s passionate about helping kids.”

It is not clear whether the judge knew the game was behind the mayor’s absence.

Don Bosco handily defeated the Northern Red Knights 31-0 at Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough.

The Eagles doused the mayor with a cooler of Gatorade and several players hoisted Ford on to their shoulders.

Ford was smiling and affectionately patted his players on the back after they captured the victory.

Ford is expected to take the stand Friday.

During his testimony Thursday, Foulidis told Ford’s lawyer, Gavin Tighe, that all he wanted to do was renegotiate his lease with the city.

Foulidis broke down in tears on the stand Wednesday when describing the effect Ford’s comments have had on his life — particularly when his daughter asked him about the controversy swirling around the family business. He also said protesters showed up at his restaurant wearing T-shirts with the words “bribe” and “illegal.”

After Foulidis’ testimony wrapped up Thursday, Bruce Baker took the stand. He ran unsuccessfully in Ward 32 and allegedly wrote a letter to the city requesting a police investigation into the Tuggs deal. He allegedly called Foulidis a crook in the letter.

Foulidis is suing Baker for $100,000 for defamation.

Day 1 of Ford’s libel trial
Day 2 of Ford’s libel trial

With files from Pam Seatle and Erin Criger