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Police find no evidence Star reporter spied on mayor

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford shows reporters the land in the public park behind his house on May 3, 2012.

Fernando Morales/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Toronto police have decided not to press charges against a Toronto Star journalist who Mayor Rob Ford accused of "spying" and taking pictures over his backyard fence.

"[There's]no evidence to lay charges," police spokesman Mark Pugash said.

Reporter Daniel Dale learned the case was closed Wednesday afternoon in a phone call with the investigating officer, a few hours after he and a lawyer visited 22 Division to offer police full access to anything on his BlackBerry – the device Mr. Ford alleged Mr. Dale used to snap photos of his yard.

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Police checked the BlackBerry and found no photos at all from the night of his run-in with the mayor, Mr. Dale said.

After the investigating officer told Mr. Dale the case was closed, the reporter asked if there was any evidence he'd set foot on the mayor's property or looked over his fence.

"She said, 'No, because if you were, then you would have been charged. I didn't find any evidence to substantiate a charge,' " Mr. Dale recalled in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

The now-famous altercation between Mr. Dale and Mr. Ford happened between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. last Wednesday, when the reporter went to check out a parcel of public parkland Mr. Ford and his wife want to purchase, something that would be virtually unprecedented.

Mr. Ford alleged that a neighbour spotted a man standing on cinder blocks, peaking over the fence and shooting photographs of Mr. Ford's Etobicoke yard, all of which Mr. Dale denied.

The mayor raced around the nearby park and confronted the man, whom he recognized as Mr. Dale, a city hall reporter for the Star.

Mr. Dale later wrote that the mayor charged toward him with his "fist cocked." The mayor conceded in a radio interview that he considered hitting the reporter.

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Mr. Dale dropped his BlackBerry and tape recorder, fled to his car and drove away.

Police responded to Mr. Ford's home shortly afterward, followed by the television cameras and reporters who captured a visibly upset Mr. Ford vowing to charge Mr. Dale for trespassing.

"I've been the subject of a lot of falsehoods over the past week," Mr. Dale told The Globe. "It's good to be cleared. I was never worried, though, that I would be charged because I knew from the start that I had done absolutely nothing wrong."

The mayor, who was at a council meeting Wednesday, did not take questions when the news broke.

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