London councillors hide behind indemnity clause, won't pay for Billy T's legal bill
Published Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:27PM EST
London ratepayers are on the hook for the $97,00 legal bill racked up by six councillors and Mayor Joe Fontana in connection with the now infamous private meeting at Billy T's Tap and Grill.
But Fontana is unapologetic for the legal bill that was incurred.
He points to council's indemnity clause that protects members from such costs and that council supported indemnity.
The mayor also feels that he and the other parties at the Billy T's lunch meeting, including councillors Dale Henderson, Stephen Orser, Bud Polhill, Joe Swan, Paul Van Meerbergen, and Sandy White, should not have to repay any amount for the costs incurred.
"Why should we? No other mayor, no other council before has ever paid, especially after council said that the representation was in order," says Fontana.
The legal costs came as a result of the ombudsman's investigation into a February 2013 lunch at Billy T's.
The meeting was deemed a 'secret' council meeting by Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, but those who dined together denied there was any political motivation.
Fontana acknowledges he is the one who initiated negotiations with the Toronto law firm representing council members.
Aird & Berlis LLP is the same firm that represented London coucillors on an earlier issue.
But if Londoners are hoping to check out the tab, they're out of luck, as Fontana says it won't be released.
"That's what solicitor-client privilege is all about. We can't waive third-party privilege, i.e.: the competitive rates of other lawyers. That's a no no," says Fontana.