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Mayor Ford testifies at $6M libel trial

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford took the stand on Friday to defend himself in a $6-million defamation lawsuit filed by a local restaurateur.

As part of his testimony, the court heard the tape of a Toronto Sun editorial board meeting with Ford that’s at the centre of case.

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

While on the mayoral campaign trail in the summer of 2010 Ford criticized the untendered and sole-sourced 20-year deal Foulidis renewed with the city. Ford told the Toronto Sun the deal “stinks to high heaven” and the article suggested he’d described the lease renewal as corrupt.

Ford also told the Sun he doesn’t approve of city deals being negotiated behind closed doors.

“These in-camera meetings, there’s more corruption and skullduggery going on in there than I’ve ever seen in my life,” he told the paper in 2010.

Foulidis’s lawyer Brian Shiller questioned Ford on Friday, asking him to repeat his mayoral campaign pledge.

Ford said he would “clean up city hall and…bring back transparency to city hall.”

Below is live coverage by CityNews and 680News reporters covering the trial.

When asked about the tape, Ford acknowledged he knew he was speaking to the editorial board, but said he wasn’t aware the meeting was being recorded.

“No one said this is on the record,” Ford said.

A tape of that conversation surfaced this week.  Ford, his brother Doug, and reporters can be heard in the recording.

Ford maintained he had never heard of Foulidis and was speaking about Tuggs and the deal. Ford’s lawyer, Gavin Tighe, says companies can’t be defamed.

Shiller appeared frustrated by Ford’s answers when he asked the mayor why he believes city council’s in-camera meetings are corrupt — the Tuggs deal was negotiated in-camera.

When asked directly if the Tuggs deal was “corrupt” Ford said: “I can’t say it’s corrupt, but it doesn’t smell right.”

Ford also failed to provide specific examples during the cross examination of criminal activities he claims take place at city hall.

During his testimony earlier this week, Foulidis broke down in tears on the stand when describing the effects Ford’s comments have had on his life.

The mayor missed Thursday afternoon’s proceedings to coach his high school football team in a qualifying game for the Metro Bowl. The Don Bosco Eagles won the game, 31-0.

Ford claims the lawsuit is politically motivated, while Foulidis claims Ford highlighted the Boardwalk deal for his own political gain.

Ford trial day 1
Ford trial day 2
Ford trial day 3

With files from Marianne Boucher and Kevin Misener