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Hughes cleared of anti-Semitic allegations in settlement

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Local journalist Lesley Hughes is finally free of allegations of anti-Semitism.

A confidential out-of-court settlement has been reached in her defamation claim against federal cabinet minister Peter Kent, the Canadian Jewish Congress, B’Nai Brith of Canada and four senior members of the two Jewish organizations.

"I need to take a deep breath and resume my former life," the freelance journalist/broadcaster said Wednesday.

"I really hope that the doors that have been closed to for the last four years will open again," she said. "These were associations that were very important to me with people that I respected. People don’t call you back, they don’t answer your emails, they don’t see you when they see you in public. It’s an exercise in being ‘disappeared’.

"I think that’s over now. I think I can look people in the eyes again."

Hughes filed her lawsuit June 16, 2009 claiming the defendants made untrue and defamatory accusations that she was anti-Semitic in connection to a 2002 column she penned about the 9/11 attacks in New York.

As a result, former federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion revoked her candidacy in the Kildonan-St. Paul riding in the 2008 federal election.

Hughes said a public statement by B’Nai Brith, the former Canadian Jewish Congress and Environment Minister Peter Kent have affirmed she is not an anti-Semite and that she does not condone conspiracy theories which oppress Jewish and other minority groups.

Hughes said the nature of confidential legal agreement forbid her about talking about specifics of the case.

"This is certainly a political context and... I do not know when I can document that," she said.

Hughes also said she’s in the final stages of writing a book about her experience. Hit and Run: My Brilliant Career in Canadian Politics, is expected to be on sale this spring.

An excerpt of her book is posted on her website.

"It has been a healing thing to do," she said of her book project.

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