Crown firm in case against Frank editor charged with breaking publication ban
The charge against Frank's managing editor came after the launch of a preliminary inquiry into the homicide of police officer Catherine Campell.
Michael Tutton, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Tuesday, September 6, 2016 11:53AM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 6, 2016 2:09PM ADT
HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia prosecutor has put a damper on a Halifax gossip magazine editor's hopes that a charge of violating a publication ban in the case of a police officer's murder is going to be dropped swiftly.
Instead, the Crown lawyer said Tuesday after a brief hearing in provincial court she's confident in the case against Andrew Douglas, the managing editor of Frank Magazine.
"I can tell you as a criminal lawyer with extensive experience, his basic position is contrary to my understanding of the criminal law," Catherine Cogswell said outside of court.
Douglas has argued the case should be dropped because his online site and magazine published the information before provincial court Judge Anne Derrick banned it during a July 11 preliminary hearing.
On Tuesday, Douglas said after the hearing he'd felt there was such a strong chance the case wouldn't proceed, he'd held off on hiring a defence lawyer for his initial appearance at the Halifax provincial courthouse.
"I was 95 per cent sure the charges were going to be dropped today. It shows what I know," he said, after pleading not guilty and promising to return on Sept. 20 to set a trial date.
"There's been no law broken."
Douglas said when he returns he'll have a media lawyer to begin defending his case.
The Frank article that drew the police charges was based on a document concerning Catherine Campbell, a 36-year-old Truro police officer who was the victim of the alleged homicide.
The document was placed before the court as the preliminary hearing into the second-degree murder charges against Christopher Calvin Garnier was starting.
Campbell was a Truro police constable for six years before her death. Police have said she went missing after meeting a man at a bar in Halifax, and that her body was found near an overpass that leads to a harbour bridge.
Her death drew national headlines and resulted in a funeral attended by hundreds in her hometown of Stellarton, N.S. Police officers and firefighters lined the streets as her casket was brought to the church.
Douglas has repeatedly said his story about Campbell was researched, written and published ahead of the publication ban -- and that this is a valid defence against the publication ban accusation.
The editor says the magazine received the information more than two weeks before publishing, put the story on its website at 9:30 or 10 a.m. on July 11, and that publication ban didn't go into effect until later in the day.
He says the same story was printed on the morning of July 11 and appeared in the print edition of the magazine, which was distributed on newsstands on July 13.
Cogswell said outside court that prosecutors have yet to fully discuss a timeline for when publication occurred with Douglas's lawyer.
"Once he (Douglas) retains counsel and I have an opportunity to speak to him or her then there may or may not be some kind of agreed statement of facts," she said.
In the meantime, Cogswell said that the publication ban charge has been revised to cover dates between July 11 and Tuesday, and she said those dates were added to the charge because she was still able to find the article on the magazine's website.
Douglas has said he believes he upset many people, including police, because of how his article painted a crime victim. But he says that shouldn't play any role in a decision to prosecute.
Police have declined comment on Douglas's criticisms, other than to say they take the breach of a publication ban very seriously.
Douglas held up the disclosure package provided to him by the Crown, and told reporters he'll be interested to read it.
"There may be some kind of smoking gun here I'm missing. But I can't imagine that there is," he said.