Chilling statement

B.C. Supreme Court throws out defamation suit against Victoria’s Capital Daily, awarding it costs

The British Columbia Supreme Court has thrown out a defamation case against Capital Daily of Victoria, suggesting that the suit filed by Timothy Durkin should be dismissed as the case has ”strong indicia” of a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP.

Durkin sued Capital Daily on Sept. 13, 2021 for defamation over its April 22, 2021 story The Man Who Stole a Hotel: How Timothy Durkin took control of Sooke Harbour House.

The story detailed Durkin’s attempts to buy the well-known Vancouver Island hotel as well as his history of fraudulent activities in the United States prior to coming to Victoria. A legal case against Durkin filed by investors, as the Capital Daily story noted, produced “a 94-page ruling in 2020 that served as a scathing rebuke, detailing the serious harm Durkin had done . . . and holding him liable for compensatory damages. “

According to Capital Daily’s reporting, “the judge in that case concluded that Durkin had ‘lied unabashedly’ throughout the trial and “in virtually all of his dealings with the couple,” said the judge of Durkin’s relations with the hotel’s owners. 

‘[E]mboldened by his success in fraudulently obtaining an injunction,’ Durkin presented himself as the owner of Sooke Harbour House, the judge wrote, because he ‘concocted a delusional narrative’ that he’d paid for 69.35% of the company’s shares. ‘He fabricated financial information to support his false assertion,” the judge wrote. The judge also found that Durkin had misappropriated ‘at least $120,000’ from the hotel by redirecting payments to his management company.

In a Feb. 7, 2022 decision, Justice Douglas Thompson ruled Durkin “failed in responding to this application at an earlier stage of the analysis: his privacy claims are without substantial merit, and his defamation claim is met with a very strong responsible journalism defence.”  

He further noted “ this is not a case where the competing public interests are finely balanced. The interest in public expression swamps the seriousness of the harm suffered by Durkin by publication of the article.” 

The decision ordered Durkin to pay Capital Daily the full costs of its defence.