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Toronto Star reporter says Ford apology unsatisfactory; proceeding with lawsuit

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologizes to Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale in council chambers on Dec. 17, 2013. CITYNEWS.

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale says he is going ahead with a lawsuit against Rob Ford because the mayor’s apology today “didn’t even come close” to being satisfactory.

Ford read a statement today in council saying he didn’t intend to suggest Dale is a pedophile during a televised interview with Conrad Black on Dec. 9.

In a series of tweets this afternoon, Dale says he is proceeding with his defamation lawsuit as the mayor didn’t retract anything, instead blaming the media “for its reasonable interpretation of his words.”

Reporter Daniel Dale served Ford with a libel notice last week, demanding the mayor apologize for and retract what Dale called a “false insinuation.”

Ford initially said he stood by every word of the interview, when asked by reporters the day after it aired if he wanted to clarify his remarks, but the mayor read a statement Tuesday in council saying he did not mean to insinuate anything about Dale personally.

“I never called Mr. Dale a pedophile,” Ford said. “I have never used that word to describe Mr. Dale. I do not believe Mr. Dale is a pedophile nor did I intend to suggest that in my comments.”

Ford said he was “merely commenting” on the thoughts that went through his mind during the incident from May 2012.

During the interview with Black, which aired last Monday on VisionTV, Ford claimed that Dale was in his backyard, “taking pictures of little kids.”

“I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking what this guy is all about,” Ford said.

On Tuesday, Ford called it “unfortunate” that a word he never said has been “ascribed” to him by the media.

Ford said he apologizes if his “actual words” have caused Dale any harm or personal offence.

Dale had said as recently as Monday that he was moving forward with his libel lawsuit, doing so reluctantly and only because Ford was repeating lies about what had actually happened.

Dale has said he was writing a story about a plot of public land adjacent to Ford’s house that the mayor wanted to buy, so he went to take a look when the mayor emerged from his home to confront him. The reporter has said that at no time was he on the mayor’s property nor did he take any pictures.

In relating the incident, Ford has often said Dale was in his backyard taking pictures.

On Tuesday, Ford said he never personally saw Dale peering over his fence or taking pictures, just that his neighbour told him he had seen someone doing that.

“Mr. Dale apparently denies that,” Ford said. “At that moment, I honestly believed, I honestly believed my neighbour’s account of the events. I had no idea at the time who the person was my neighbour told me who was leering over my fence.”

Ford’s apology in city council chambers:

I want to take this opportunity to clarify my comments made in an interview with Conrad Black and to apologize to Daniel Dale for the way in which the media has interpreted my statements.

I never called Mr. Dale a pedophile. I’ve never used that word to describe Mr. Dale.

I do not believe Mr. Dale is a pedophile nor do I intend to suggest that in my comments.

My comments to Conrad Black were in context with my worst experiences with the incredible assault by media and particularly the Toronto Star on me and my family.

My comments related to the fear I had for my family when my longtime neighbour told me [there was] someone at my fence and appeared to be taking pictures of my family home over my fence.

To be clear I never personally saw Mr. Dale peering over the fence or taking pictures. My neigbour told me however that he did see someone doing this. Mr. Dale apparently denies that.

At that moment I honestly believed, I honestly believed, my neighbour’s account.

I had no idea at the time who the person was my neighbour told me was leering over the fence.

At that moment, I had the same fears and concerns that I believed many people would have when such a report from a neighbour that they’d known for over 15 years.

And I ran to the area as quickly as I could to accost the person and attempt to protect my family.

When I arrived at the corner of my home, very far from the land Mr. Dale advises he was researching a story about.

I did indeed find an individual beside my fence in the general area my neighbour advised me. This confirmed my fears at the time. I accosted this person as I believed he was a threat to my family.

This individual turned out to be Daniel Dale on assignment from the Toronto Star.

I have no issue with Mr. Dale personally. I understand that he’s an employee in a very competitive news business and must do as his superiors instruct him. I do take issue with his bosses at the Toronto Star to put him and I into this situation.

I don’t mean to insinuate anything about Mr. Dale personally in my interview with Mr. Black. I certainly did not intend to suggest that he is a pedophile.

I was merely commenting on the thoughts that went through my mind on the night of May 2012 before I had any idea that person my neighbour told me he saw peering over my fence was a reporter on assignment from the Toronto Star.

It is unfortunate the word I didn’t say has been ascribed to me by the media. But I wish to sincerely apologize again to Mr. Dale if my actual words caused him any harm or personal offence.

And if Mr. Dale is here I want to personally apologize to him.

Thank you Madam Speaker.

Dale released his statement through a series of posts on Twitter.