Lantzville’s mayor and two councillors have filed a civil lawsuit against three former colleagues for libel.
Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime and councillors Denise Haime and John Coulson have filed a civil lawsuit against Jennifer Millbank, Graham Savage and Dave Scott, claiming the former Lantzville councillors engaged in a nearly six-month public campaign to discredit them.
Court documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 24 and obtained by the News Bulletin, claim various social media posts and comments, publicly released e-mails, letters and other documents made by the former councillors between October 2014 and March 2015 contained unsubstantiated allegations that Colin and Denise Haime and Coulson were acting inappropriately as elected officials.
Millbank, Savage and Scott resigned from Lantzville council roughly six months after they were elected, citing internal conflict and dysfunction among councillors. Rod Negrave, who died last year, also resigned as councillor at that time.
According to court documents, Millbank circulated material known as the March memorandum via e-mail in April 2015. The plaintiffs allege that Millbank was not authorized to circulate the memorandum and her e-mail contained language that was false, malicious and defamatory toward them.
The lawsuit also claims two Facebook posts made by Millbank in 2015, which were highly critical of the mayor, as calumnious.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
Speaking to the News Bulletin, Millbank said anyone can bring a lawsuit and that the allegations against her are nothing short of ridiculous.
“I think the allegations are absurd, but if they want to bring a lawsuit then I guess we will deal with it,” she said.
Millbank said she had moved on from all the politics and was somewhat surprised to be served with a civil lawsuit.
“It seems like bringing lawsuits within the municipal council seems to be an epidemic right now. The allegations are some time ago and I’ve long since moved on,” she said.
Haime said he wouldn’t comment on specifics about the case as it is before the courts. He said Lantzville taxpayers won’t be on the hook for any legal costs.
“It’s not paid for by the district nor using any sort of district resources,” he said. “As a private matter, we won’t comment on any details of the claim, other than that they are laid out in the court filing and that further details will be provided in court.”
The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction restricting the former councillors from publishing or broadcasting any related or similar material that would be deemed libel, as well as monetary restitution.