Lawyer for journalist demands apology, retraction from John Furlong

VANCOUVER – The journalist accused of defaming the former head of the Vancouver Olympics is now accusing John Furlong of damaging her reputation.

Laura Robinson’s lawyer, Bryan Baynham, has sent a letter to Furlong’s legal counsel, demanding the former Vancouver Olympics’ CEO apologize for and retract statements made about his client during a recent media blitz.

In the Wednesday letter, Baynham also demanded Furlong remove a statement, “Enough is Enough,” from his personal website.

Baynham alleged Furlong’s statements were false and damaged Robinson’s “hard-earned reputation for independence and journalistic excellence.”

Baynham also alleged Robinson’s ability to earn a living as a lecturer and freelance journalist has been “severely affected.”

Furlong responded in an emailed statement that no apology is merited nor will be made, and his online posting will stand and he will continue to pursue the case in court.

He also referred to Robinson as an activist, not a reporter or journalist.

None of the allegations against Robinson or Furlong have been proven in court.

The legal dispute began last year when Robinson wrote an article in the Georgia Straight newspaper alleging Furlong verbally and physically abused students while he was a teacher in northern British Columbia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Furlong announced he’d sue Robinson and the paper.

After the article’s publication, three people — two women and one man — filed lawsuits against Furlong alleging sexual abuse.

Late last month, Furlong went on the offensive, granting interviews to radio and TV stations and print publications.

He announced police had cleared him of sexual abuse allegations made by one of his students, although RCMP Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said the file remained open, and talked about how his life had become a living nightmare.

Furlong said he’d drop the lawsuit against the Georgia Straight but escalate his own action against Robinson.

He also accused Robinson of having a “pattern of inaccuracy in her writing,” citing several past stories as examples.

Baynham alleged Furlong “defamed the good name and reputation” of Robinson during interviews with Global TV on Oct. 28 and CBC radio on Oct. 30.

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