PRESSLERS WIN DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST DAVID LETHBRIDGE AND CHBC-TV
Claus and Eileen Pressler of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, have won
major defamation case against self-described anti-racist activist David
Lethbridge and CHBC-TV of Kelowna, B.C.
Eileen Pressler is the head of the Council on Public Affairs, an
organization which has fought for the right to free speech in Canada.
Mr. Justice Owen-Flood of the B.C. Supreme Court awarded Claus Pressler
$60,000.00 in damages. Eileen Pressler was awarded damages of $11,500.00.
The case involved a TV news broadcast aired in October of 1993 by
CHBC-TV in which reporter Blaine Gaffney and Lethbridge repeated rumours
that the Presslers were building a paramilitary compound on their
retirement property, complete with extensive security measures, guarded
perimeter fences, underground bunkers, separate telecommunication and
electrical systems and a barn with numerous rooms and a spiral
At trial it was shown that the Presslers were building a retirement
and that the rumours were completely false. Several of their neighbours
testified on behalf of the Presslers at trial.
CHBC-TV and Lethbridge made no attempt at the trial to prove that the
allegations made in the broadcast were true. Both attempted to justify
the broadcast on the grounds that the Council on Public Affairs had
defended the right to free speech of people such German-Canadian Ernst
Zündel and Alberta teacher Jim Keegstra.
Eileen Pressler said that she was elated with the news. "Not only is
a great victory for us, but it's also a great victory for freedom of
speech and freedom-loving Canadians everywhere," she said. "So-called
anti-racist groups in Canada have for years freely vilified anyone in
this country who stands up for freedom of speech. This decision sends a
message that those who fight to maintain the freedoms Canadians fought
for in World War II can do so without having their reputations and lives
destroyed by lies and falsehoods."
Lethbridge is a well-known anti-racist who has been active in shutting
down the meetings of any groups or individuals whose views he disagrees
with. He ran as the candidate for the Communist Party in the last
The Presslers were ably represented by well-known lawyers Douglas
Christie of Victoria and Barbara Kulaszka of Ontario.
The full text of the judgement against Westcom (CHBC-TV) and David Lethbridge
can be seen at: