Climate scientist Andrew Weaver has won a closely watched defamation lawsuit against the National Post, after a B.C. Supreme Court found the newspaper was “careless or indifferent to the accuracy of the facts” in a series of articles published in 2009 and 2010.
Justice Emily Burke awarded Weaver, a former University of Victoria professor and current B.C. Green Party MLA, $50,000 in damages.
She also ordered the Post to remove the offending articles from its websites and electronic databases, as well as publish “a complete retraction” of the defamatory statements, “in a form agreed to by” Weaver.
However, in the first court decision in Canada to address the issue of whether a newspaper can be liable for reader postings on its website, she sided with the Post, which had argued it was not the publisher of the comments, and had removed them.
Post lawyer Daniel Burnett, said it is still “too early” to say if his clients will appeal.
Burnett described Burke’s order for the Post to remove the offending articles from the Internet, which includes withdrawing consent given to third parties to re-publish the stories, and requiring these third parties to cease re-publication, as “unusual.”
The defendants, who include Post publisher Gordon Fisher, as well as columnists Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster and Kevin Libin, have 30 days to file an appeal, which would be heard at the B.C. Court of Appeal.
Reached by phone on Friday, Weaver said he is “ecstatic” about the outcome of a lawsuit he claims “was never about money.”