US & Canada

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: Crack cocaine video 'does not exist'

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Media captionMr Ford said video of him smoking crack cocaine "does not exist"

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has denied allegations he was caught on camera smoking crack cocaine.

"I cannot comment on a video that I've never seen or that does not exist," he told reporters.

Mr Ford's remarks came a week after the Toronto Star newspaper and US news website Gawker reported they had viewed a video in which he smoked the drug.

"I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict," he said. He accused the media of judging him without evidence.

Mr Ford said the previous week had "not been an easy one".

"It has taken a great toll on my family and my friends and the great people of Toronto," he said.

Video unreleased

The mayor's first extended remarks on the rumours that have roiled politics in Canada's largest city came after senior aides pressured him to address the allegations.

"He would have been a lot better off had he made this statement earlier in the week but for whatever reason he did not," Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, an ally of Mr Ford, told the Associated Press after Mr Ford's news conference.

The video has not been released publicly and has not been verified.

The Toronto Star newspaper and Gawker report it was shot by men who claimed they sold crack cocaine to the mayor.

Gawker has launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise $200,000 (£140,000) to buy it, though it now says it has lost contact with the people in possession of the footage.

On Wednesday, the mayor was removed as volunteer head coach of a high school football team, the Don Bosco Eagles, by the Toronto Catholic District School Board. No explanation was given.

And the following day the mayor sacked his chief of staff, Mark Towhey, but did not say why.

Afterwards, Mr Towhey said he had not resigned.

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