Mayor Rob Ford calls crack cocaine video allegations 'ridiculous'
“Ridiculous” is pretty much all Mayor Rob Ford will say about claims he was caught on video smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.
“These allegations are ridiculous,” Ford told dozens of reporters at City Hall Friday. “It is another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me and that’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say for now.”
Ford refused to answer follow-up questions from reporters.
“He’s said all he’s going to say guys,” one of Ford’s staffers said as the mayor was ushered away from reporters.
The mayor left City Hall early Friday afternoon.
“Have a good weekend guys,” Ford told reporters camped outside his office.
The U.S. website Gawker published an article late Thursday that alleged it had been offered a chance to buy a video of Ford “smoking crack cocaine” — and the Toronto sellers were hoping to get six-figures for the video. An online campaign to raise cash to buy the video was gaining steam Friday and the story has been picked up by media outlets around the world.
Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris said Friday that the mayor denies the allegations.
“First of all, I’ve spoken to the mayor (Thursday) and secondly, he denies any such allegation,” Morris said.
Asked if the mayor plans any legal action, Morris said they’re at the “bottom rung of the ladder of anything of that nature now.”
“We’re just trying to see whether or not such a video exists and whether or not any video has been doctored or altered,” he said. “I think we’re just having to go step-by-step.
“I think unless one has expertise in crack cocaine smoking it is very difficult to gauge what a person is actually doing in an alleged video.”
In the wake of the Gawker story, the Toronto Star published a story Friday morning by two reporters who stated they were shown the video earlier this month and alleging Somali drug dealers are shopping the video around.
The Toronto Sun has not seen the video.
Ford’s press secretary George Christopoulos, chief of staff Mark Towhey and brother, Councillor Doug Ford, have yet to respond requests from the Sun asking for comment about the allegations.
Deputy mayor Doug Holyday defended the mayor at City Hall.
“They’re just allegations until they are proven,” Holyday said. “Videos are strong items but they can be manipulated. I saw a video of a bird picking up a baby on television and it turned out that it wasn’t accurate. Someone was able to stage that video and I guess if you stage that video then you can stage other things.”
Holyday said he’s seen no evidence of drug use by the mayor.
“I’ve never seen the mayor or anybody else smoke crack cocaine,” he said. “I don’t know if you smoke it, I don’t know what you do with it but I’ve never seen anybody do it.”
Toronto Police are “closely monitoring the situation,” Const. Tony Vella said but would add nothing else.
At Ford’s home in Etobicoke, his wife Renata declined to comment on the allegations as she took out the garbage Friday morning.
“Go to City Hall,” she told reporters.
Many neighbours were sympathetic towards Ford.
A woman who lived next door said, “shame on you” to members of the media outside the mayor’s home while a man driving by accused the media of “just destroying the guy.
“They attack the guy, they’ve got these puppets coming from some comedy show,” he said. “Leave the guy alone.”
—Files from Jenny Yuen