Alberta Appeals Court bumps up award to ‘Scud Stud’ in defamation case

CALGARY — A former war correspondent has been awarded another $200,000 in costs related to his years-long legal dispute with one of Canada’s biggest media companies.

Arthur Kent won a defamation suit two years ago against the company that is now Postmedia and its former columnist Don Martin.

The case stemmed from a 2008 column published while Kent was campaigning for a seat in the Alberta legislature that painted him as an out-of-control egomaniac who had alienated party staff.

Kent, who got the nickname “Scud Stud” while reporting for NBC during the Persian Gulf war, was a star Progressive Conservative candidate, but was on record as disagreeing with some party policies.

“Alberta Conservatives have bestowed problem candidate Arthur Kent with a less flattering designation as he noisily blusters his way through their reeling election campaign — the Dud Scud,” Martin wrote.

Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf found the piece would cause right-thinking people to think less of Kent and awarded him damages of $200,000 and costs of $250,000.

Kent had sought more than $1.2 million in costs.

The Alberta Court of Appeal said in a decision Friday that it would bump up the costs awarded to a total of $450,000.

The Appeal Court’s ruling noted the litigation was “protracted and contentious at every stage.”

“Even obvious, routine matters required judicial intervention or supervision.”

Strekaf was critical of the defendants for continually refusing to turn over two emails between Martin and the lawyer for Kent’s campaign Kristine Robidoux. But she also rejected accusations from Kent that the defendants were guilty of wrongdoing, including fraudulent concealment of records and intentional destruction of records.

“None of these allegations were ever established,” she wrote. “Both sides were responsible for some of the excessive pre-trial proceedings and delay.”

The Appeal Court disagreed.

“As we have concluded that the most serious of the appellant’s allegations of misconduct were established, we find the trial judge erred in penalizing him for having made them,” the Appeal Court wrote.

“Accordingly, we will adjust the costs awarded to the appellant. Mindful of the seriousness of the conduct and the need to discourage it, we allow the appeal and award the appellant an additional $200,000 in costs.”

Kent thanked the Court of Appeal in an emailed statement.

“Martin, Postmedia and their lawyers apparently believed they were above the truth. Then they acted as though they were above the law. They were wrong on both counts.”

Kent also wanted an injunction against republishing the defamatory article, but both Strekaf and the Appeals Court declined to grant one.

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