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Businessman files libel suit against Sooke online publisher

Claim says Sooke PocketNews re-published and expanded on CBC article
Britt Santowski and the Sooke Pocket News are the subjects of a $1-million lawsuit. (File photo)

A Sooke businessman is suing a local online publisher for libel.

Timothy Durkin, along with SHH Holdings Ltd. and SHH Management Ltd., filed the notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court on March 4.

Durkin and SHH Management manage the Sooke Harbour House Resort Hotel.

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In court documents, Durkin claims Britt Santowski, the publisher of the Sooke PocketNews, defamed him in a number of online posts.

The plaintiffs are seeking $1 million in damages, and court supervision for a period of three years to safeguard a repeat offence.

They also seek court costs, and “such further and other relief” as the court deems necessary.

The documents cite that the Sooke PocketNews republished and expanded a CBC article that was published in November 2018 on a Canadian judicial review, although the story focused on the Sooke Harbour House and the “fight for ownership.”

The plaintiffs claim the next day Santowski and the Sooke PocketNews acted to “defame, bully, harass and harm” them in concert with others named in the notice of civil claim, and participated in a six-month campaign of wrongful interference, libel, and defamatory conduct.

The court documents claim Santowski published hostile and harmful content in her website’s “Commentary” section that was untrue and libelous with the intent to hurt the economic interests of the plaintiff.

In response to the claim, Santowski denies the allegations.

The documents, filed by Santowski, state the articles published on Nov. 2 2018 and March 1, 2019 were fair and accurate reports and published together with the judicial proceedings.

She also said that the comments made in relation to articles on Nov. 2, 2018, Feb. 25, 2019, and March 1, 2019, were opinions expressed by other persons and that she did not hold the opinions made in the comments.

The claims have not been proven in court.

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