National News

'Real Housewives' stars in libel suit

Real Housewives of Vancouver cast member Jody Claman poses in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday March 29, 2012. Claman and her daughter are suing a co-star for libel over comments made in the media after Claman
Real Housewives of Vancouver cast member Jody Claman poses in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday March 29, 2012. Claman and her daughter are suing a co-star for libel over comments made in the media after Claman's daughter was injured in a drive-by shooting.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
— image credit:

By James Keller, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Former "Real Housewives of Vancouver" star Jody Claman and her daughter are suing a co-star for libel over comments made in the media after Claman's daughter was injured in a drive-by shooting.

Mia Deakin, who frequently made guest appearances on the reality television show before it was cancelled last year, was wounded Sunday in what police described as a targeted shooting in Vancouver's east side.

Deakin was standing at a gas station with a man who received minor injuries. Police have not speculated on a potential motive, but say the intended target appears to be the man.

Reports of Deakin's involvement surfaced the following day, when Claman's "Real Housewives" co-star Mary Zilba spoke to a CBC-TV reporter about the shooting.

"During the CBC interview, (Zilba) made defamatory comments that included statements to the effect that Ms. Deakin associated herself with criminals or individuals of unsavoury character and that Ms. Deakin herself engages in criminal behaviour," said the statement of claim, filed Tuesday.

"Further, she made statements to the effect that Ms. Claman knew or ought to have known that Ms. Deakin allegedly associated with criminals."

The statement of claim said Claman and Deakin sent Zilba a cease-and-desist letter, which prompted Zilba to repeat similar comments in a Facebook post.

The document, which contains allegations that have not been tested in court, accuses Zilba of malice and stated "the slander was particularly vile" to Zilba's "enemies."

"Real Housewives of Vancouver" ran for two seasons until Shaw, which owns the program's home network, Slice, announced the show wouldn't be returning while producers reconsidered its cast and location.

A spokesperson for Zilba could not be reached to comment, and she has not filed a statement of defence.

The lawyer for Claman and her daughter did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Like its American counterparts, the Canadian "Real Housewives" spinoff followed the lives of a group of wealthy socialites.

During its two-season run, frequent gossiping and explosive arguments between the cast members were as much a part of the plot as high-society cocktail parties. Claman and Zilba in particular developed a reputation as archrivals on the show.

Police, who have not publicly named Deakin, said Monday that a woman at the gas station was shot in the shoulder when a grey or silver SUV pulled up and someone started firing.

The man who was with her suffered minor injuries and fled, but he was later picked up by police and arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving while prohibited.

As of Thursday, police had not made any arrests for the shooting. Const. Brian Montague said in an email that "the intended target appears to be the male victim."

The statement of claim says Deakin was "seriously injured."

On Wednesday, Claman posted two photos on Twitter from Deakin's hospital room. One photograph shows a female companion seen applying lip gloss to Deakin, who is still hooked up to medical equipment.

"A message from Mia: I love U ALL ....Out of Trauma UNIT!" said a message included with the photo.

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