Court evidence: Anonymous online threats against 82 year old widow originated from Miller Thomson Law Office
Allegations & evidence against Miller Thomson LLP and lawyers Andrew Roman, Maanit Zemel*
#1 in the Miller Thomson LLP series.
Evidence filed in Ontario Superior Court shows that beginning in at least 2004 and continuing for many years, personnel from the Toronto law office of Miller Thomson LLP used the Internet to anonymously threaten, intimidate and harass witnesses who opposed Miller Thomson clients in lawsuits.
In 2004 Mrs. Marjorie Knox, an elderly widow, lived in Barbados. She and her adult children were witnesses in a lawsuit against Kingsland Estates Limited. (Kingsland Estates Limited is now a defendant in the Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking civil case in Ontario Superior Court)
What began with Miller Thomson LLP’s anonymous Internet harassment of Mrs. Knox and her family, soon expanded into a large, coordinated online campaign where Kingsland supporters made vile anonymous threats; including to burn witnesses’ homes, to rape and murder Mrs. Knox and to sneak into the family home at night and slit her daughter’s throat while she slept.
The initial Miller Thomson LLP anonymous internet campaign against Mrs. Knox, her family and associated witnesses escalated from online threats to actual physical crimes in Barbados, Canada and other countries. These acts included mail theft, sabotage / vandalism of vehicles, home break-ins, assault, arson, and the 2012 gunpoint kidnapping and beating of John Knox at the family home by persons having a connection with Kingsland Estates Limited.
Faced with this campaign of threats and violence, Mrs. Knox was forced at age 86 to leave her homeland of Barbados. She presently lives somewhere in the United States and is fearful of returning to Barbados.
All this is according to sworn evidence filed in the Ontario courts. Our readers can review much of the evidence here at DonaldBest.CA and make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)
How Miller Thomson LLP was caught making anonymous online threats against court witnesses
Today many people are aware that their Internet activities can reveal their true identity, location and other information. Despite this growing awareness, in the last few years the news has been full of cases where persons who thought themselves to be anonymous on the Internet were identified and sometimes arrested, sued or fired for their criminal online activities.
Ten years ago though, most people didn’t realize that sending an email, surfing the web or posting an anonymous comment on a website leaves electronic tell-tales that can lead right back to the source.
In 2004, the Miller Thomson law office personnel making the Internet threats were obviously unaware that they left a record of their ‘IP’ (Internet Protocol) number when they ‘anonymously’ sent emails and posted comments on the Knox family website, then called ‘Keltruth.com’. The law office personnel were also unaware that unlike most home internet set-ups where IP numbers frequently change, Miller Thomson LLP’s internet service is assigned fixed IP numbers that openly identify the law office and its address of 40 King Street West, Toronto.
Forensic computer experts say that it was and is a simple matter to trace Miller Thomson LLP’s IP numbers to the source. The same forensic experts also say that with the preserved records from the Miller Thomson internal computer network, it would be possible to trace the threats to specific Miller Thomson personnel.
According to sworn evidence, on April 22, 2010 the Florida-based lawyers for the Knox family sent a letter to lawyer Andrew Roman and Miller Thomson LLP accusing Mr. Roman of sending threatening communication to Mrs. Knox’s daughter, Kathleen Davis, and of violating several Florida laws.
The letter demanded that Mr. Roman and Miller Thomson law office “cease and desist from harassing or contacting our client” and included proof that some anonymous Internet threats and harassment originated from Miller Thomson LLP. The managing partner of Miller Thomson LLP, Nora F. Osbaldeston, was copied as were Gerald Ranking of Fasken law office and Lorne Silver of Cassels Brock law office.
The April 22, 2010 letter was the second letter about the matter sent to Andrew Roman. About a month previously, Mr. Best’s lawyer sent a letter about the same issue and the apparent involvement in some way of another Miller Thomson employee, Sandra Lyons. Here are the two letters sent to Andrew Roman:
March 29, 2010 letter to Andrew Roman / Miller Thomson LLP
April 22, 2010 letter to Andrew Roman / Miller Thomson LLP / Ranking / Silver
Sample Miller Thomson IP number: 22.214.171.124
Using DomainTools.com or similar online services, you can search the IP number mentioned in the letters and evidence and you’ll see that it has been assigned to Miltom Management – Miller Thomson LLP since at least 2002:
CustName: Miltom Management (Miller Thomson LLP)
Address: 40 King ST W
PostalCode: M5H 3Z5
What Miller Thompson personnel sent anonymously
Here are a very few excerpts from sworn evidence, showing some of the harassing and threatening messages that Miller Thomson LLP personnel sent anonymously to Mrs. Knox and her family members:
“You see, Mrs.Knox, unlike the Bajan press and the less well-informed Bajan public which sees you as a chicken-raising, egg-gathering, octogenarian Boudicea, fighting for her “paternal” rights and in order to promote family unity (a claim on your part which is so patently false and motivated solely, I believe, by the principal, “having fucked up, let me see if they will let me off the hook”), I see you as an embittered, vengeful, 82 year-old liar, stupid…”
“What a wonderful legacy you leave when you shuffle off this mortal coil.”
“I do not know why you did not cut a deal when you might have been able to do so – as, if the Respondents were MY clients, I certainly would not allow them to entertain any deal with you now – I cannot in any wise see how you can possibly prevail before the Judicial Committee”
“… more ultra vires acts and acts of mala fides on you part. Therefore, your silence makes one wonder several things. (1) Have you finally come to realize the inadequacy and sharp practices of your legal counsel and how it impacts on you and your family?”
“… without doubt, Their Lordships will have much to say on these subjects and you and your counsel will be the recipients of their outrage.”
“I am utterly perplexed as to what you and your counsel hope to achieve by that action, since, almost certainly it is statute-barred by reason of the operation of the Statute of Limitations and… your action will be dismissed, with costs awarded against you.”
April 21, 2004, 10:28am from Miller Thomson LLP: IP number 126.96.36.199
“Is it true that your youngest daughter has mortgaged her house to a Canadian lawyer for $1.5 million, of which $1.4 million has already been spent on your prosecution of your action?”
April 1, 2004, 7:49am from Miller Thomson LLP: IP number 188.8.131.52
“I have a story for you. The Privy Council has made available the dates of April 6th and 7th for the hearing of your appeal. Previously, responding counsel had written to your counsel saying that they were all available April 5,6,7 and 8. Everyone in Barbados knows this and is a little surprised that you, apparently, do not.”
November 25, 2004, 9:11am from Miller Thomson LLP: IP number 184.108.40.206
We wonder if additional Miller Thompson LLP anonymous communications have been documented but not yet filed with the court and if these will surface during the Best v. Ranking civil case. Some believe that the evidence already filed with the court might be the tip of the iceberg before the case is finished.
Is the Law Society of Upper Canada aware of the Miller Thomson LLP anonymous Internet threats against court witnesses?
According to documents filed in Ontario courts, in November of 2012 former Toronto police officer and undercover investigator Donald Best wrote detailed letters to both the CEO and Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, Robert G.W. Lapper Q.C. and Thomas G. Conway.
The letters contained allegations of criminal and other offences by Ontario lawyers, including that personnel from the Toronto law office of Miller Thomson LLP sent anonymous, threatening and harassing emails to witnesses. Some of the forensic evidence about this misconduct by Miller Thompson LLP law office personnel is posted on SolidCase.CA here (PDF 424kb) and here (PDF 2mb).
In his letter to the LSUC, Mr. Best said:
“Anonymous threats to witnesses from Miller Thomson LLP computers
There is also strong forensic evidence that a series of threatening and harassing anonymous emails to my witnesses originated from the computer systems of one of the involved large Toronto law firms (Miller Thomson), starting in at least 2004 and carrying on for many years. There is strong documentary evidence that the Miller Thomson law firm was provided with this evidence in writing in 2009 and 2010, yet the firm’s lawyer, Mr. Andrew Roman, withheld the evidence from the judge during my case: all the while arguing that his client and firm were not involved.”
Copies of Mr. Best’s letters to the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the response he received are available here:
20121128 LSUC Best Letters (PDF 489kb)
As well as Mr. Best’s letters, DonaldBest.CA has recently learned that the Law Society of Upper Canada was formally alerted to the Internet harassment and threats in early 2010.
DonaldBest.CA has no idea why the Law Society of Upper Canada never acted to investigate or to examine Miller Thomson LLP’s files and records concerning the 2004 Miller Thomson anonymous internet threats.
What has Miller Thomson done with the internal network and documentary evidence?
In light of the serious allegations made in the April 22, 2010 letter to lawyer Andrew Roman and Miller Thomson LLP’s managing partner Nora F. Osbaldeston, it is a given that Miller Thomson’s senior leadership and their internal management committee would have known to secure and preserve all relevant documents and electronic data in the file and generally at Miller Thomson.
This evidence should still be available to a court and also to the Law Society of Upper Canada, which has the right to see everything (including privileged communications) without a warrant or court order.
As always, DonaldBest.CA reminds our readers that as of the publication date none of the allegations has yet been decided in a court of law, and to our knowledge none of the defendants has filed a Statement of Defence. Visitors are encouraged to examine the legal documents and other evidence posted here, to do independent research and to make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)
We invite Miller Thomson LLP, the Law Society of Upper Canada or anyone to clarify any inaccuracies in this story or elsewhere on DonaldBest.CA. We welcome all submissions, documents, evidence, replies or explanations and will post them on this website upon receipt.
* DonaldBest.CA believes that lawyers Andrew Roman and Maanit Zemel are no longer with Miller Thomson LLP, having left that law office sometime in 2014.