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Updated: Thu, 28 Nov 2013 00:10:49 GMT | By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca

Rob Ford-related document of 'very significant public interest'



A drug-related scandal involving Mayor Rob Ford has made headlines around the world and led city council to take action to limit his powers. Chris Young/Canadian Press

A drug-related scandal involving Mayor Rob Ford has made headlines around the world and led city council to take action to limit his powers. Chris Young/Canadian Press

More information on the "extensive" police investigation into Toronto Mayor Rob Ford should be released as it is of "very significant public interest," a judge ruled Wednesday.

Portions of the police document that were previously released showed former staffers alleged the mayor was intoxicated at work, drank while driving and associated with suspected prostitutes.

The document, containing allegations not proven in court, was filed in the drug case of Ford's friend Alexander Lisi, though it mostly focuses on the mayor.

The police investigation was launched to probe allegations that a video showed the mayor smoking crack cocaine, which Ford has since admitted he did, likely in a "drunken stupor."

Ford has denied consorting with prostitutes and insists he is not an alcoholic or drug addict.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer granted an application from media outlets to have the rest of the document, except for some areas on police investigative techniques and confidential informants, made public.

"It cannot be denied that the actions of the mayor are a matter of very significant public interest and concern at this time, as are the actions of police in relation to them," Nordheimer wrote.

"We are dealing with the actions of the duly elected mayor of the country's largest city and the extensive investigation undertaken by police...In terms of legal proceedings, it is hard to conceive of a matter that would be of more importance to the public interest."

The actual release of the rest of the document, including information from wiretaps, was put on hold until the afternoon of Dec. 6 so the Crown has a chance to appeal. The document could be released sooner if the Crown declares it won't appeal, or much later if they do appeal.

Lisi facing extortion, drug charges

The federal Crown, which is prosecuting Lisi on his drug charges, didn't oppose the release of the information. But the provincial Crown argued against it.

The province is prosecuting Lisi on an extortion charge, which relates to his alleged efforts to get his hands on the video of the mayor apparently smoking crack.

The information from wiretaps didn't relate to Lisi's extortion charge, Nordheimer noted, rather some refers to his alleged attempts to retrieve another item.

The judge dismissed the provincial Crown's concerns as too "vague and amorphous" and therefore not enough to warrant a publication ban.

Lisi's lawyer argued that the release of information at this stage would jeopardize his client's fair trial rights.

Nordheimer agreed that there was "some" risk, but not enough to override the principle of openness of the courts.

The vast media coverage has focused on the mayor and only secondarily on Lisi, Nordheimer noted, and there have been many cases in which impartial juries were found despite sustained pre-trial publicity, such as the cases of Paul Bernardo and teenager Jane Creba's murder.

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