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Mayor Ford’s $6M libel trial wraps up

A $6-million defamation lawsuit filed against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is now in the hands of a judge after both sides gave their closing arguments on Tuesday.

A decision on the high-profile case is expected to take several weeks.

The lawsuit was filed by local restaurant owner, George Foulidis.

Foulidis’ company, Tuggs Inc., runs the Boardwalk restaurant in the Beaches, which was awarded a renewed 20-year contract that gave it exclusive rights to sell food and drinks in the busy Woodbine Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard area.

Ford, who wasn’t in court on Tuesday, vocally opposed the contract in the summer of 2010 when he was running for mayor.

While on the campaign trail that summer he criticized the untendered and sole-sourced deal with the city, reportedly telling the Toronto Sun the deal “stinks to high heaven.”

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.

On Tuesday, Ford’s lawyer Gavin Tighe stressed that the mayor’s words can’t be considered defamatory because they were not directed at Foulidis personally, or even his company.  

Tighe said Ford was criticizing the contract with the city and added that the long-time councillor had a duty to raise his objections, saying it was in the public’s interest.

Ford has maintained that the Sun story was a distortion of the truth.

Foulidis’s lawyer, Brian Shiller, concluded by saying there was personal malice in Ford’s statements. “He can’t fabricate criminal allegations,” he added.

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.”

With files from Erin Criger & Shawne McKeown, CityNews.ca

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