The new responsible journalism defence has helped an Ontario news website defeat a libel action launched by a man named in a police fraud alert. In one of the first applications of the defence (created by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2009), a jury ruled SooToday.com acted responsibly when it published the alert, even though it contained erroneous information about a man with a criminal record for fraud.
The case shows that journalists must make serious efforts to verify a story before publication, in order for the defence to apply. SooToday, an independent web-only news outlet in Sault Ste. Marie, consulted more than 20 sources, commissioned an independent accounting analysis that cast doubt on the man’s investment scheme, and made efforts to locate him for comment.
Read the SooToday.com story on the case.