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Libel ruling benefits society
[Final Edition]
The Record - Kitchener, Ont.
Date: Nov 19, 2007
Start Page: A.8
Section: OPINION
Abstract (Document Summary)

As things stood before the ruling, [Robert Sharpe] said: "A newspaper that has properly investigated the story and has every reason to believe it to be true still walks on thin ice. The fear or risk of being unable to prove the truth of controversial matters is bound to discourage the publication of information the public has a legitimate interest in hearing." Previously, proving the truth was absolutely key to the defence in such legal actions against the media.

As Sharpe wrote: "The threat of litigation under a legal regime that leaves no margin for error, even where the speaker took all reasonable steps to verify the facts, discouraged free and open debate on matters of public importance. I recognize that adopting this defence shifts the focus away from the truth and toward the conduct of the defendant. In my view, this is an acceptable price to pay for free and open discussion."

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