US & Canada

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denies drug video allegations

Rob Ford surrounded by reporters in Toronto. 17 May 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mayor Rob Ford was surrounded by reporters outside his offices

The Mayor of the Canadian city of Toronto, Rob Ford, has denied allegations that he has been caught on video smoking crack cocaine.

The Toronto Star said that two of its reporters were shown the video clip - reportedly filmed on a smartphone - by someone trying to sell it to the paper.

The newspaper says that it cannot verify the video's authenticity.

Mr Ford called the allegations "ridiculous" when he emerged from his house on Friday.

Later, outside his office, Mr Ford refused to take questions but in brief comments said it was "another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me".

He added: "That's all I've got to say for now."

Mr Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, earlier told the Toronto Sun: "We're just trying to see whether or not such a video exists and whether or not any video has been doctored or altered."

The Toronto Star said two of its reporters were shown the video on 3 May, after meeting an anonymous tipster in a car park.

'Well-lit room'

The newspaper said the footage appeared to show Mr Ford "sitting in a chair, wearing a white shirt, top buttons open, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe".

The Toronto Star said that although it had no way to verify the authenticity of the video, the clip "appears to clearly show Ford in a well-lit room".

The paper added that it "did not pay money and did not obtain a copy of the video".

In an editorial, the Toronto Star said the city needed answers "right away" about the incident.

"It's not enough for the mayor to try and slough this off with a one-word denial and point a finger, yet again, at the Star for reporting on it," it said.

Toronto Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday told reporters it was "shocking to see it on the front page of a paper" and that he did not believe the article and still had confidence in the mayor.

The editor of US online news site Gawker, John Cook, said in a blog post that he had also seen the clip but did not want to pay the six-figure amount demanded by the video's owner.

Mr Ford's lawyer reportedly sent an email to Gawker, threatening legal action.

"Mayor Ford denies such... took place, and if such posting occurs, it is false and defamatory, and you will be held legally accountable," the email read, according to Gawker.

Meanwhile, Canadian paper The Province has launched an online fundraising campaign to buy the video.

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