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Kamloops mayor adds to legal team in lawsuit against councillor

Reid Hamer-Jackson is suing Katie Neustaeter for defamation in connection with comments she made on March 17, 2023
Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson has filed a defamation lawsuit against Coun. Katie Neustaeter, one of several issues Kamloops council and the City of Kamloops are dealing with as the new council is only 11 months into a four-year term.

Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson is adding to his legal team in his defamation lawsuit against Coun. Katie Neustaeter.

“He’s kind of a one-man band,” Hamer-Jackson said of his personal lawyer, David McMillan, who has been handling the lawsuit to date.

Hamer-Jackson said he is bringing in lawyers from another firm for assistance, but referred KTW to McMillan when asked how many lawyers, the name of their firm and whether McMillan will still be involved in the case.

McMillan told KTW he could not provide any information about the proceedings, noting there are matters ongoing that he cannot discuss.

In August, the mayor filed an application to strike portions of Neustaeter’s legal response to his lawsuit against her as inadmissible, a date for which remains to be set.

According to the latest documentation in B.C. Supreme Court, Neustaeter’s counsel filed a requisition on Sept. 7 to have the application hearing scheduled “the week of Tuesday, September 19, 2023 at 9:45 a.m.”

Hamer-Jackson’s lawsuit, filed on June 12, argues Neustaeter defamed him on March 17, when she read out a statement on behalf of all council, claiming he had violated personal and professional boundaries, which the mayor contested was baseless and caused innuendo on the part of the public, damaging his reputation.

The lawsuit also claims Neustaeter defamed Hamer-Jackson in a meeting and via email with other councillors and staff in February, when she accused the mayor of communicating with her father — former Kamloops MLA Kevin Krueger — with nefarious intent to gain influence over her. In her reply, Neustaeter argues she did not defame the mayor and that her statements were justified based on substance, fact and fair comment.

Among the portions Hamer-Jackson wants struck is section 30, which details numerous “general boundary violations and disruptive behaviour” of the mayor, claiming he yelled at, belittled and disrespected councillors and city staff and engaged in name-calling. The section says the mayor attended operational meetings at which he was not required, communicated confidential information with people who are not city councillors or staff, publicly criticized councillors in local media, failed to attend public events despite committing to do so and repeatedly emailed city staff between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., despite being asked not to do so unless the matter was urgent. 

While Hamer-Jackson denies the allegations and describes them as irrelevant to any issue raised in the legal action, Neustaeter’s response says they are important to her defence.

The mayor also refutes, and calls to strike, a section of Neustaeter’s response claiming he shared personal information about her father with council and involved Krueger in city business. Neustaeter claims Hamer-Jackson also sought her dad’s help in getting Neustaeter to support firing a city staff member. According to the mayor, he did not disclose any personal information from Krueger with councillors to review in February.

He says he shared a voicemail, in confidence, from Krueger soliciting a meeting with him to dispel misinformation from Neustaeter that Hamer-Jackson was pursuing communication with her father with nefarious intent of political gain.