Poet Najwa Zebian expected to address legal action against her at International Women's Day Breakfast
A day after being served with a notice of intent to sue for defamation, Najwa Zebian will be speaking at the largest annual fundraiser for the London Abused Women’s Centre.
“I can confirm that at her breakfast speech surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of supporters of women’s rights to speak out,” her lawyer, Phil Millar, told 980 CFPL, “that she will address this letter that has told her to shut up, that has told her to be quiet, and that has told her to apologize.”
Zebian first brought forward allegations of sexual harassment against Michael Deeb, a high school principal and London Police Services Board member, in December. He was forced to step down from that board after the Ontario Civilian Police Commission announced it would launch an investigation.
Deeb’s lawyer, Faisal Joseph, confirmed to 980 CFPL in early February that he had also stepped down from the boards of the St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and Huron University College.
“As far as we’re concerned, she’s continuing to defame and slander him so we’ve stopped taking a defensive approach and we’re going on the offence,” Joseph told 980 CFPL.
“We’ve brought a formal notice pursuant to the Slander and Defamation Act of intended action against Ms. Zabien and the Huffington Post for the comments that she has made on social media and that have been published.”
The notice was brought forward a day before Zebian was slated to speak at the 18th annual International Women’s Day Breakfast.
“It’s as much of a coincidence in the last few days as her keeping Mr. Deeb’s name out of the media for two years and then a week before he gets married, going public with his name to embarrass him,” said Joseph.
“We’ve been working on this for the last month with respect to the notice.”
Joseph noted that it took time to sift through Zebian’s social media posts and added they’ll be keeping tabs on her speech on Friday.
“We also will have people at the event… that will be taking copious notes and if necessary, we will add those to our notice and to any intended action that we may bring.”
Joseph added that the law provides Zebian with the opportunity to “retract, apologize, make the changes,” and that they will decide their next moves based on her response.
Millar told 980 CFPL they’re ready to fight.
“The thought that a meanly-worded letter would stop her and her voice is ridiculous,” said Millar.
“If somebody wants to jump into the courtroom with us then I’m very happy to oblige.”
According to Millar, the notice Zebian received was from Deeb’s union law firm and not from Joseph.
The allegations have not been proven in court.