Man named in MLA’s suit denies key allegation

Terrace resident Jim Lynch, who is being sued by Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin, says 2013 incident wasn't a political scheme

Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin is suing former BC Conservative candidate Michael Brousseau.

The man being sued for defamation by Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin because of statements made at an all candidates forum during the May 2013 provincial election campaign is denying the incident was a scheme between him and one of Austin’s political opponents.

That’s just one of a handful of amendments filed earlier this month to Terrace resident Jim Lynch’s response to Austin’s civil claim against him.

RELATED: MLA sues political opponent for incident at 2013 all candidates forum

In that claim, first filed in the BC Supreme Court nearly a year ago, Austin says Lynch’s comments at an April 2013 all candidates meeting, in which he alleged Austin abused a foster child, characterize Austin as a sexual predator and not worthy of his standing in the community and of his position as a public official.

Austin is claiming general, aggravated, punitive and special damages against Lynch and also against Michael Brousseau, the BC Conservative candidate who ran against Austin in that election and in the previous 2009 provincial election.

The original suit filed against Lynch included a “John Doe” who was then described as Brousseau in the amended suit, filed Oct. 2, 2014.

Brousseau “incited, assisted and/or encouraged the defendant Lynch …” in the comments made at the April 30, 2013 all candidates meeting held at the Terrace Pentecostal Assembly.

This then makes Brousseau a “joint publisher of the April 30, 2013 statements,” reads Austin’s suit.

In Lynch’s amended response, it now says “the defendant denies there was any common design, plan, or scheme between him and the defendant, Michael Brousseau, when he made the statements, or at all.”

It goes on to say that Lynch acted “entirely on his own in making the statements” and that Lynch does not know Brousseau, other than from minimal contact from when Brousseau was campaigning.

Brousseau has also maintained he did not know Lynch nor scheme with him and that Austin’s claim against him is politically motivated.

Speaking late last year, Brousseau said he encountered Lynch once when he was out door knocking in support of his candidacy.

During the all candidates meeting held at the Terrace Pentecostal church, Lynch, in a statement contained in a question to Austin and included as a transcript of comments made at the meeting in the court documents, said he had got to know a girl who was once a foster child of Austin and his wife.

He said she told him of sexual abuse and when he asked her why she did not go to the authorities, he said she wondered who would believe her.

“I really felt for the girl because we got to [be] buds,” the transcript of Lynch’s comments continued.

The transcript was included in court filings associated with the suit.

Lynch took back his statements and issued a formal retraction and apology to Austin after being contacted by Austin’s lawyers and after investigating the claim further.

A letter sent to Austin through his lawyer May 8, 3013 and included in the court documents reads that Lynch “belatedly investigated his source more thoroughly and again spoke to the child’s foster mother … he is convinced the foster child duped him into believing her and there was no basis whatsoever for her statement to him” and that he “is now convinced that there was no truth whatsoever to the allegation she made to him, that he believed and then repeated at the all candidates meeting.”

The suit has yet to be heard in court and no trial date has been finalized. Brousseau has yet to file an official response.