Jian Ghomeshi, the host of the arts and culture program Q aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), was fired over the weekend, amid a sexual harassment scandal. Now the popular radio personality is suing the CBC for C$50 million, claiming unlawful termination.
On Sunday the CBC released a brief statement announcing that it was ending its relationship with the radio host. Ghomeshi then fired back.
He released a statement via Facebook, explaining the situation and defending himself. “I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer,” he wrote.
Ghomeshi, a ubiquitous figure in the Canadian publishing and broadcasting world, claimed he engaged with a woman in “adventurous forms of sex” including role play and consensual BDSM, adding that the two “joked about (their) relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady's Giller-Prize winning book last year.”
CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson told Publishers Weekly that “information came to our attention recently that, in CBC’s judgment, precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian Ghomeshi.” No other details about the decision to cut ties with Ghomeshi have been released.
Shortly after the CBC’s announcement, Toronto law firm Dentons Canada LLP released a statement saying Ghomeshi has retained them to file a C$50-million lawsuit against the CBC, claiming general and punitive damages for breach of confidence and bad faith. The law firm’s statement also said Ghomeshi “will commence a grievance for reinstatement under his collective agreement.”
Ghomeshi, who is the author of the memoir 1982, was scheduled to host this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize Gala on Nov. 10, the celebration for Canada's top fiction prize (which comes with a purse of C$100,000). Now, it seems, that job is off. On Sunday a Giller Prize representative announced that Ghomeshi will no longer host the ceremony. A replacement has not been announced.
It’s also unclear what will happen to Ghomeshi’s radio show, which he co-created in 2007 and which has been syndicated in the U.S. through NPR/PRI. He hosted Q for the last time on Thursday, when he read his opening essay about the previous day’s shooting on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. According to Thompson, guest hosts will take over for the time being, beginning with CBC radio host Brent Bambury on Monday.
Sunday evening, the Toronto Star released a story claiming that over the past few months, the newspaper had confronted Ghomeshi with allegations "from three young women, all about 20 years his junior, who say he was physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the lead-up to sexual encounters."