CALGARY – A former television journalist suing for defamation over an article critical of his campaign for a seat in the Alberta legislature faced questions Monday about one of his key witnesses.
Arthur Kent represented himself when he settled a case out of court last year against campaign worker Kristine Robidoux. Robidoux, who leaked material to columnist Don Martin for his article, then filed a statutory declaration in court for Kent’s side revealing what happened.
A lawyer for the defendants — Postmedia and Martin — asked Monday if there was a deal made to have Robidoux file the declaration.
Kent invoked lawyer-client privilege on that line of questioning.
“As a self-represented litigant I was entitled to the same zone of privacy in preparing witnesses for trial as are lawyers acting … for your clients,” Kent told Postmedia lawyer Brent Mescall.
“That was a matter covered by privilege.”
Kent became known as the “Scud Stud” for his live reports for NBC during the Gulf War in the 1990s. Martin’s column, labelled the “Scud Stud A Dud,” criticized Kent as an ego-driven, out-of-control star candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in the 2008 Alberta election.
Robidoux has already testified that she shared private emails with Martin that included complaints about Kent between the Tory campaign chairman and party brass. But when she saw the article she immediately regretted her decision and became physically ill, she said.
In her statutory declaration, Robidoux, who is a lawyer herself, said she was approached in July 2009 by Martin, who told her he was not going to be able to keep her identity a secret because Kent had launched a defamation case.
She said she met with Martin and his lawyers and was asked to consent to having her identity released.
Mescall asked Kent if he was involved in that declaration.
“No. It was sworn by Ms. Robidoux because I believe in the spring of this year she had become deeply offended by the attempts of Don Martin to spread lies about her,” Kent replied.
“I think, if you’re asking me that question, she was offended by Mr. Martin’s behaviour, felt under attack. She felt her reputation was being subjected to a collateral attack and she wanted the truth to be known and it’s her statutory declaration ”
Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf stepped in.
“You’ve asked her and you’ve asked him questions about why the statutory declaration was provided and he said it was provided because she was unhappy with what Mr. Martin had done,” Strekaf said.
“It seems to me we’ve pursued this area sufficiently and I am mindful that there are privilege issues that would exist with respect to any trial preparation matters and so … you are either dangerously close or have kind of crossed the line already on this issue.”
Kent has called all of his witnesses at the trial.