An Ontario Supreme Court justice ruled Friday that two Toronto Sun reporters were "out to get" federal Cabinet minister John Munro and awarded him $75,000 in damages in his libel suit against the daily tabloid.
"We are satisfied with the end result, plan no appeal and feel The Sun is a better newspaper because of it," publisher Douglas Creighton said in a statement following the verdict.
Justice John Holland ruled that former Sun reporters Donald Ramsay and Robert Reguly were "motivated by actual malice and were grossly negligent" in writing their story accusing Munro of financial wrongdoing in the federal government takeover of Petrofina Canada Inc. last year.
Toronto Sun Publishing Corp., named in the suit with four of its top executives, was judged "vicariously liable" for the reporters' actions.
Holland found Creighton, editor-in-chief Peter Worthington, editorial director Ed Monteith and former editorial director J.D. MacFarlane innocent of actual malice or gross negligence, but negligent in their handling of the story.
The award included $25,000 in punitive damages, $25,000 in compensatory damages and the same amount in aggravated damages.
A spokesman for Munro said the Indian affairs and northern development minister had no immediate comment on the 55-page ruling.
On June 9, 1981, a week after the story about Munro appeared in The Sun and its sister newspapers in Calgary and Edmonton, the papers ran an apology admitting it was false.
Ramsay was fired and Reguly, an award-winning investigative reporter, was allowed to resign. Reguly is now suing for wrongful dismissal.