Top court refuses to hear appeal of hate speech defamation award

Top court refuses to hear appeal of hate speech defamation award
April 23rd, 2009

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal by self-styled, free-speech crusader Paul Fromm against a $30,000 defamation penalty.

Fromm, a well-known figure on the far-right fringes of the Internet's blogosphere, was seeking to overturn lower court rulings that found he maliciously defamed a former investigator for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Fromm's web postings were directed at Richard Warman, a federal government lawyer who has made a career of going after hate speech and white supremacists.

Fromm didn't dispute that he'd labelled Warman a "high priest of censorship" - among other things - on his web site. But Fromm argued it was fair comment and without malice.

A trial judge ruled otherwise.

"The steady diet of diatribe and insults, couched in half-truths and omissions, all lead up to the finding of malice such that the defamatory statements are not protected by the defence of fair comment," Justice Monique Metivier of Ontario Superior Court said in the initial ruling.

Last December, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the trial award of $30,000 against Fromm, and added $10,000 in legal costs.

The Supreme Court refused to hear Fromm's appeal and, as is usual with leaves to appeal, provided no reasons.

Fromm is a former member of the Western Guard and a self-styled director of other right-wing groups, including the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee and the Canadian Association for Free Expression.

He was relieved of his high school teaching position in Mississauga, Ont., in 1993 and fired in 1997 after it was reported he attended a celebration of Adolf Hitler's birthday and spoke to rallies of the white supremacist Heritage Front.

Person of interest: