As a part of a mutually agreed court settlement of a defamation of character lawsuit, David Jenkins has apologized to Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara “for any suffering he has experienced as a result of blog postings” on his blog Anglican Samizdat.
The settlement also stipulated that Jenkins would pay “a majority of the legal costs involved, remove the Bishop from his posts, and agree not to publish any similar posts about the Bishop in the future,” according to a release issued by the diocese of Niagara. In a related post on Anglican Samizdat, Jenkins noted that he had agreed to pay $18,000 toward legal costs, which Bird’s lawyer had stated were $24,000. Jenkins did not pay damages, which were listed as $400,000 in the original claim filed in February 2013.
Jenkins’s statement of defence had denied that his postings were libelous or defamatory. It asserted that he was exercising his freedom of religion and expression and that his comments were “…intended to be humourous and make use of satire, sarcasm, irony, hyperbole, wit, ‘send up’ and other types of humour to make a point other than what one would take literally from the comments. In those cases, no reasonable viewer or reader of the blog postings would be expected to believe that the statements are true…”
In his April 7 statement, Bishop Bird noted that he welcomes healthy debate, questioning and criticism, but the attacks posted on Anglican Samizdat went “far beyond respectful debate.” His statement of claim listed 31 instances of defamation of character, “among many other posts in which both the Bishop and his family were the subject of Mr. Jenkins’ critical attacks over a five-year period.”
“I believe that the successful conclusion to this action sends a strong message to all who unjustly seek power over others through bullying behaviours,” the bishop said in the release. Bird added that he believes “like many Canadians, that cyber-bullying must be stopped. Anglicans are called to challenge violence of every kind, and this case echoes the efforts of many to address the systemic issues which have enabled such bullying to continue unchecked.”