David Baines - Libels Present & Libels PastThursday, May 19, 2011
This is an excerpt from Malcolm Parry's Column in today's Vancouver Sun.
BC Business magazine's editor resigned his post after a story about a successful libel bid against Sun columnist David Baines was spiked
By Malcolm Parry, Vancouver Sun May 19, 2011
|David Baines by Alex-WH|
The critters survived one draconian and costly eradication attempt, although a second succeeded. It took less to get rid of O'Grady, though. He resigned May 11 after Canada Wide Media Ltd. chairman/CEO and BC Business publisher Peter Legge ordered the June edition's cover story cancelled. Written by one-time Vancouver Sun staffer Richard Littlemore, it detailed former senator Ed Lawson's successful libel suit against Sun business columnist David Baines. The article was replaced by one on Vancouver bikini-swimsuit designer Anna Kosturova. O'Grady, who'd produced 39 editions and seen the magazine receive 22 Western Magazine Award nominations in two years -more than the entire decade preceding -promptly quit.
Regarding what O'Grady called "an important story for our audience," Legge said: "The simplest thing is that we just had a difference of opinion whether it was a right fit for BC Business." He said he invited O'Grady to "come back and see me this afternoon. I don't want you to resign." Tuesday, Legge said: "It's tragic -for me as well as BC Business. I like Matt. He did a good job. He worked hard."
That hard work entailed having Davis and Co. defamation and privacy specialist Rhys Davies, QC vet Littlemore's copy to protect Legge from possible litigation. Even the headline was changed, to The Case Against David Baines. Mentions of past successful libel defences were excised. "Peter knew that Rhys had signed off on it," O'Grady said.
There was a hint of the crusader when O'Grady said of the spiked article: "What makes it a most interesting story is the implications for how we write about people in positions of privilege, people with power, and how they implicitly deter journalists from writing about them in a negative fashion."
The journalist in question, Littlemore, reportedly advised O'Grady it wasn't worth quitting over Legge's decision. O'Grady's response: "I like Peter. I respect his right. He owns the company. It's his reputation. It's his bank account on the line. I don't begrudge him the decision he made. But I don't regret the decision I made. When you've lost the confidence of the publisher, that's a good time to part ways."
|Senator Ed Lawson - Alex W-H|
Will The Case Against David Baines ever be printed? Vancouver magazine editor Gary Ross emailed: "It's way too legally detailed for VM's audience. It is not a piece you'd want to resign over."
Regarding a similar matter, now ailing screen actress Zsa Zsa Gabor said: "When people say, 'It's not the money, it's the principle,' it's the money." That cynical view does not hold in O'Grady's case.
David Baines - Libels Past
Addendum: Most of us in Vancouver know more about the case that Malcolm Parry writes about above. And Malcolm Parry surely knows more about it, too. This story has ramifications about our legal systems that makes me wonder why I left Mexico in the first place. I left Mexico for Vancouver in 1975 because I was tired of living under corruption. If there is one single man in Vancouver that I would trust without any question that man would have to be David Baines. As for business magazines based in Burnaby I look back at Harvey Southam's Equity (based in Vancouver) and find his former brand of journalism as almost as squeaky clean as Baines himself.