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LILLEY: Randy Hillier-Dean French battle heats up with lawsuit threat, despite partial apology
Brian Lilley
Published:
April 12, 2019
Updated:
April 12, 2019 8:38 PM EDT
MPP Randy Hillier in his offfice at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ont. on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)
Randy Hillier has issued an apology to Doug Ford’s Chief of Staff — sort of.
Hillier was served notice on Friday by a lawyer representing Dean French warning him that he will be sued for libel if doesn’t delete tweets and stop making what French deems are false claims.
The letter from lawyer Gavin J. Tighe says that if Hillier does not comply, French “will be seeking general and punitive damages, plus interest and costs.”
At issue are two tweets Hillier posted April 11 accusing French of being part of casting fraudulent votes in the United Conservative leadership race in Alberta and of destroying the ballots in Ontario’s PC leadership race after voting irregularities.
“Dean French’s email server involved: Fraudulent emails used to cast votes in UCP leadership race,” reads the first tweet, which links to a story from CBC that says emails from deanfrench.ca and other web domains were used for casting votes now in question in the UCP race.
In his letter, Tighe says his client does not own that domain.
“Mr. French does not have a personal internet domain of deanfrench.ca nor does he have any connection to such domain name,” Tighe wrote.
Tighe says claiming “Dean French’s email server involved” is both false and defamatory, injuring French’s reputation.
Hillier deleted that tweet on Friday afternoon and offered a partial apology.
“I apologize for an error I made in a tweet on Thursday, April 11, 2019,” Hillier wrote. “This attribution was incorrect, and I apologize for that error.”
My statement regarding a notice of libel from Dean French #onpoli pic.twitter.com/Ya9Bn1fXSR
— Randy Hillier (@randyhillier) April 12, 2019
Yet Hillier’s full apology only addressed the first tweet and the allegation over the email sever.
The second tweet, also later deleted, says French destroyed ballots.
“Didn’t the Ontario PC party also have significant voter irregularities & discrepancies in our Leadership race last March? Ahh, but all the ballots were ordered destroyed by-Dean French.”
Tighe points out that French worked for Ford’s campaign but was not a party official: “He neither drafted the leadership rules, nor had any authority whatsoever to order the destruction of ballots.”
Party members from both the Ford camp and the Christine Elliott camp who were present for tense negotiations after the vote have confirmed French did not order any ballot destruction.
A letter released to the Sun by Jag Badwal, the PC Party president at the time of the leadership race, said the decision to destroy the ballots, common in political races, was made by the party executive the week after voting was completed.
“Mr. French had no involvement, power or control whatsoever, directly or indirectly, in the custody or destruction of any ballots either before, during or after the leadership contest,” Badwal stated.
Dean French, rear, chief of staff to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, stands at a door in the chamber as PC MPP Will Bouma occupies the seat in the legislature formerly occupied by Amanda Simard, in Toronto on November 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Hillier deleted one tweet claiming French ordered ballots destroyed, but not all the tweets where he alludes to that claim have been deleted.
Reached by phone, Hillier said he isn’t backing away from that claim at this point.
“If any further clarifications are needed, I will make further clarifications,” Hillier said.
French’s lawyer Gavin Tighe said the apology is not enough.
“The letter is pretty clear there were two parts that were defamatory,” Tighe said.
Tighe said he and French expect a full apology on the ballot allegation as well.
“This is a complete and utter fabrication and he needs to retract it,” Tighe said.
BLIZZARD: MPP Hillier’s history of haranguing his party’s leaders
LILLEY: MPP Randy Hillier drops a bomb
Ousted MPP Hillier strikes back, PCs call claims ‘outright lie’
Hillier was kicked out of the PC caucus on Feb. 20 after an incident in the legislature that his detractors called the last straw.
The longtime MPP and former leadership contender was described by others in the party as not being a team player, a claim Hillier disputes.
According to Hillier, his ejection from the PC caucus was the result of a personal and ongoing series of disagreements with French.
blilley@postmedia.com
Letter to Randy Hillier by CynthiaMcLeodSun on Scribd


http://scribd.com/document/406047913...-Randy-Hillier
http://torontosun.com/opinion/column...lawsuit-threat