The Irvings and the courts

A New Brunswick judge extended an injunction against a man trying to start up a community newspaper in New Brunswick, who is accused of stealing corporate secrets from the Irvings, reported Chris Morris of the Canadian Press on Oct. 26. An excerpt:

Justice Peter Glennie of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench extended a sweeping injunction against Ken Langdon Friday, former publisher of the Irving-owned Woodstock Bugle-Observer, for one week.

The injunction stops Langdon from approaching customers, advertisers and employees of the Woodstock Bugle-Observer for the purpose of starting his own weekly paper in the area.

Townhall’s Oct. 25 post:
Serious charges should be tested in serious ways. A court is doing this in New Brunswick, examining charges by Irving-owned media that a former employee stole secrets of an Irving newspaper to start up a competitive newspaper. Now, a court should also be asked to test allegations that Irving-owned media is failing to report on the case in a way that meets the most basic standards of journalism.

No, I am not suggesting that the Irving companies sue the critics for libel — a chill tactic that is the most cowardly of cowardly acts. I’m suggesting that if the allegations against the Irvings are true, someone or a group with a contract with the Irving group to provide a good or service — in this case, that would be comprehensive, balanced and accurate coverage of news — take Irving media to court for breach of contract. This litigant could be, perhaps, a paid subscriber to an Irving newspaper, or an advertiser.

Some background from a report by CBC news: CBC reports that the Irvings own all the English daily newspapers in New Brunswick, as well as all the weekly publications with the exception of the Sackville Tribune and the St. Croix Courier. Now, Irving-owned Brunswick News is accusing William Kenneth Langdon of stealing company secrets to start his own publication. “The accusation has been widely covered by Brunswick News,” reported CBC. “But critics say Langdon’s accusation, contained in court documents, is equally serious — that Brunswick News vice-president Victor Mlodecki is prepared to establish a $1-million fund to drive a local competitor out of business — and is going unreported by the same newspapers.”

An excerpt of the CBC report, which can be read online here:

“The coverage in newspapers of Brunswick News has been quite, very much in the favour of the company,” said Kim Kierans, director of the school of journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax. “It’s been giving the company’s side.”

Journalism should cover both sides of a story, Kierans said.

“In all our stories we try to be fair to both sides. We try to be fair, accurate, unbiased in our coverage. They have to ask themselves if they are being that way and what are the bigger issues involved.”

The Toronto Star is carrying an Oct. 25 Canadian Press story, which Irving’s lawyer Stephen Hutchinson quoted. Hutchinson argues that that the case is not about competition, but about the misappropriation of confidential business information.

CP reported that Brunswick News “is seeking to maintain an injunction against Langdon until a trial can be held, forbidding him from approaching Bugle-Observer customers, advertisers, and employees on behalf of his new newspaper.”