Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale calls Rob Ford a liar, launches lawsuit

UPDATED (DEC. 12 5:45 p.m.): Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale has announced he has served Mayor Rob Ford with a libel notice after the allegations he made earlier this week, and then repeating them on two occasions. Dale explains what he is seeking with the lawsuit in a post to the Toronto Star website:

As my libel notice says, I’m asking Ford to immediately retract the false insinuation that I am a pedophile and all of his false statements about my conduct on May 2, 2012. I’m also asking Ford and Vision owner ZoomerMedia to apologize immediately “publicly, abjectly, unreservedly and completely.”

Dale's legal representative Iris Fischer says that when her legal team and Dale served Ford with the libel notice this afternoon, they were asked to leave all cell phones outside of the office, and sign a document confirming that they had no recording devices on their persons.

Ford has long maintained that the media was part of a conspiracy out to get him, and that has left a reporter unfairly and untruthfully smeared as a "pedophile" in a quandary about how to clear his name.

The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale was dragged back into Ford's mud pile this week when the mayor told Conrad Black in an interview that Dale was caught on his property, taking pictures of his children.

“I have little kids. When a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say that word but you start thinking, ‘What’s this guy all about?’”

Asked on Tuesday about his allegations, Ford told reporters that he stood by "every word" and refused to apologize.

[ More Brew: Rob Ford makes allegation against Toronto Star reporter ]

Ford was referring to a 2012 incident in which he confronted Dale in a public park near his house. Dale says he was at the site to collect information for a story about Ford's unusual request to purchase the plot of public property.

Ford claims Dale was both on his property and on the other side of the fence, standing on bricks taking pictures into his back yard. Dale has maintained that he was nowhere near Ford's property line, took only one photo of the land (which did not save) and had no interaction with Ford's children. A police investigation turned up no unlawful behaviour.

On Wednesday, the Star published a story by Dale accusing Ford of lying and intentionally smearing his name.

Dale wrote:

It’s what just about everybody knows he insinuated. It’s the word that people are already attaching to my name in emails and Twitter posts. It’s the word that will now come up every time a prospective interviewee or new acquaintance Googles me.

It’s false. It’s malicious. It’s defamatory. It’s mind-boggling. It’s damn gross.

Dale says he had been advised that he could sue Ford for libel. The only problem is that Ford has joyfully politicized his strained relationship with the Star. Blaming the media has become catnip for his supporters. And anything Dale does to clear his name will be painted by Ford as another attack by the newspaper.

[ Related: Should the Fords bow out of police budget talks? ]

Reporter Daniel Dale is contemplating legal action after Ford's comments. (CBC) "[I]f I were a businessman or teacher or anything other than a Toronto Star reporter, I would have served Ford with a libel notice already," Dale wrote. "I’m cautious because I don’t like being or staying the centre of attention, because I like my life the way it is, because it would be tiresome to listen to Ford’s claims of a vendetta, and because it seems like it would probably be unpleasant to find yourself in a long public spat with a wealthy and generally unrepentant person with good lawyers and a big megaphone."

The Star's editor Michael Cooke has said they will support Dale if he chooses to sue. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says Ford's comments were "beyond the pale" and that he should apologize.

But Ford remains unrepentant, gleeful to have dragged municipal politics to another low, and spoiling for a fight.

Dale has weighed his desire for justice against the damage it would cause, and has opted for justice.