TORONTO, March 17 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
welcomes today's positive decision in Ken Peters' appeal case and calls it an
important step forward for the ability of journalists to protect sources to
whom they have promised confidentiality.
Hamilton Spectator journalist Ken Peters was appealing a contempt
citation on December 1, 2004, when he refused to reveal his source. Peters was
also ordered to pay costs of $31,600 as a sanction for the contempt. The
appeal was heard on January 22, 2008, by Justices Robert J. Sharpe, Eleanore
A. Cronk and Eileen E. Gillese of the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Toronto.
In allowing Peters' appeal, the Court of Appeal recognized in clear terms
the value of confidential sources to effective reporting in the public
interest. The unanimous judgment also emphasizes the need to follow procedures
that are fair to the journalist and to seek solutions that respect the rights
and interests of all concerned.
"Achieving this has been a hard-fought battle," said lawyer and CJFE
Board member John Norris, who represented CJFE as an intervenor in the case.
"This judgment will save journalists the tremendous effort and expense of
having to prove the importance of confidentiality all over again each time the
issue comes up."
The conflict arose from a story that Peters worked on almost a decade
ago. In 1995, Peters received documents about problems at a Hamilton nursing
home. Allegations made against the nursing home subsequently prompted its
operators to file a lawsuit against the City of Hamilton and Halton Region.
"We are heartened by this decision, which recognizes that protection of a
journalist's ability to maintain the confidentiality of sources is an
important tool in the gathering of news," said journalist Paul Knox, speaking
for CJFE. "Weaken that protection and you cast a chill on journalists and
investigative journalism." Writing for all three Judges, Justice Sharpe also
emphasized the law's recognition of this role when he dismissed the Attorney
General's request that this case be decided without reference to Charter
CJFE is encouraged that this latest case supports legal trends which
appear to protect and promote the special role of the news media in a free
society as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We hope
that the resolution of this case will give renewed protection to journalists
in their work.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more
than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who
work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and
around the world. CJFE has a history of work on cases pertaining to media law
and freedom of expression.
For further information:
For further information: CJFE Manager, Julie Payne at (416) 515-9622 x.