A supreme court judge has awarded Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin $75,000 in his civil suit against a local man who alleged, in a public statement at an all-candidates meeting during the 2013 provincial election, that Austin had abused a foster child in his care.
Mister Justice Robert Punnett said “I wish to make clear that the words spoken were unfounded, unjustified and false. There was no basis for them whatsoever. Mr. Lynch’s conduct was inexcusable. Mr. Austin as a result suffered serious damage to his reputation. He is entitled to substantial damages….”
Punnett also found that Michael Brousseau, named in the suit for allegedly conspiring with James Lynch to make the statement, was not involved.
In Austin’s civil claim, first filed in the BC Supreme Court Jan. 9, 2014, Austin said 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 claimed general, aggravated, punitive and special damages of $125,000 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.
In Lynch’s amended response, he denied having any plan or scheme between himself and Brousseau when he made the statements or at all.
It went 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 also maintained he did not know Lynch nor scheme with him and that Austin’s claim against him was politically motivated.
Lynch and Brousseau said they had only met when Brousseau came to Lynch’s doorstep during the campaign.