Police chief consulted lawyers before going public about mayor 'crack' video

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TORONTO - The city's chief of police consulted two lawyers before making his jaw-dropping announcement that investigators had obtained a video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, a spokesman said Friday.

Ford's lawyer has called for Chief Bill Blair to resign for what he called the public convicting of the mayor at the news conference on Thursday.

But Blair's spokesman said the chief wasn't just speaking off the cuff.

"Chief Blair sought and took legal advice from two very experienced and distinguished lawyers prior to the news conference," spokesman Mark Pugash said Friday.

"No one should be surprised: these are extremely important matters and due diligence is something that has to be done."

Blair went to that length because he felt it "absolutely appropriate and necessary," Pugash added.

Ford's lawyer Dennis Morris has denounced Blair, who said, among other things, that police had recovered the video from a hard drive.

Blair also confirmed it as the video previously reported as apparently showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

"As a citizen of Toronto I'm disappointed," Blair told the media Thursday.

"This is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city and that concerns me."

In an interview with a Toronto radio station Friday, Morris attacked Blair.

"He could barely contain the smirk on his face," Morris told Newstalk 1010.

Ford has not commented on Blair's revelation, but previously said the video did not exist and that he does not smoke crack cocaine.

Police recovered the video — first reported by website Gawker and the Toronto Star — in connection with an investigation that led to extortion charges against Ford's friend Alexander Lisi.

The publications also said Ford could be heard on the video making homophobic and racist comments.

Blair said the video would become part of court proceedings against Lisi.

As he did when reports of the video first surfaced in May, Morris is questioning how anyone could know what substance the mayor might have been seen smoking, and he is challenging Blair to release it.

"The video exists. He's seen it. Let the public see it. Let the public judge for themselves," Morris said.

"I'd love to see it."

The chief has said repeatedly that police will put the evidence before the courts, and that it would be up to them to decide what is released.

Blair did say there were no grounds to charge Ford as a result of the recovered video.

Lisi, 35, who also faces drug-trafficking charges, was granted bail Friday.

Organizations: Toronto Star

Geographic location: TORONTO

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