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Star story “full of mistakes”

Ed Patrick at Ontario's Hansard in 1988

TORONTO: Ed Patrick, long-time press club president and governor of the National Newspaper Awards, has won a full retraction and apology in a libel action that lasted almost four years.

The case stemmed from comments made by former press club member Stacey Chopak, of Leaside, and reported in a Toronto Star article in March 2011.

In a three-hour pretrial conference before Justice David Stinson, Chopak admitted she made statements that were not true to Star reporter Jennifer Yang.

Chopak signed a full apology to Mr. Patrick and agreed not to make defamatory statements about him in future.

Patrick, a former copy editor with the Star, said: “This is just another example of why people shouldn’t believe everything they read in the newspapers.

“It also shows how easy it is for people with an axe to grind to get the ear of a reporter and have harmful lies published in a reputable paper.” He added: “Often an experienced senior editor smells a rat and kills the story. Sadly, that didn’t happen in this case.”

Chopak said her phone interview with the Star reporter was arranged by press club past-president Bill Somerville.

Called before the press club’s board of directors, Somerville denied planting the story in the Star, but added “I know who did.” He also stated that the story was “full of mistakes.” His membership in the press club was immediately suspended.

Patrick has been a member of the press club since 1968 and president for 10 of the past 25 years, the most often elected president in the history of the club. He is a founding member of the National Newspaper Awards board of governors and a key member of the Canadian News Hall of Fame committee.

The Star article appeared shortly after the press club turned down an effort by a group of former and current newspaper journalists to take over the Canadian News Hall of Fame, founded by the press club in 1965.

Three members of the group are current or former employees of the Toronto Star.

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Ed. Patrick
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