US news website Gawker launches crowdsourcing campaign to raise money to buy video allegedly showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack

Online gossip site asks readers to fund purchase of footage as controversial politician describes claims as 'ridiculous'

The US online news website Gawker is attempting to raise $200,000 (£132,000) to buy and publish a tape which they allege shows the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, smoking crack cocaine.

Reporters from both the gossip website and The Toronto Star claim to have seen the video and allege it shows the controversial mayor inhaling from a pipe.

The video, which has caused uproar in Canada, has not been released publicly and there is no way at this stage to verify whether it is authentic or not.

Mr Ford has strongly denied the allegations telling reporters the claims were "ridiculous".

He later made similar comments outside his office and added that it was "another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me."

The Toronto Star claims that two of its reporters were shown the video, which was reportedly filmed on a smartphone on 3 May, after meeting an anonymous tipster in a car park.

The Star said two reporters watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe.

The Star said it did not obtain the video or pay to watch it.

The newspaper also alleges Ford made an anti-gay slur against federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in the footage.

However, Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday today questioned the authenticity of the video, saying "video can be altered" and "drug dealers can't be trusted."

Holyday said he has not spoken to Ford or his staff since the allegations surfaced, but noted he still believes in the mayor "at this point."

"I'm not sure who is behind this. I wouldn't want my career or my credibility resting on the word of drug dealers," Holyday said.

Gawker editor John Cook said in a blog post that he had also seen the clip and was now attempting to raise the $200,000 required to buy it and publish it online.

In the blog post he claims that if the $200,000 is raised he will publish a "crystal clear, well-lit video of the mayor of Toronto smoking crack cocaine, published on Gawker for the world to see."

The blog post also states that should the individuals who have pledged to sell the video disappear Gawker will: "Donate every penny we receive to a Canadian non-profit that helps people suffering from addiction and its consequences."

The allegations are just the latest in a series of bad press reports for Mr Ford.

Earlier this year The Toronto Star alleged that he was asked to leave a gala fundraiser for wounded Canadian soldiers because he was intoxicated.

He also provoked controversy by saying that Toronto would be better off if it didn't accept more immigrants.

Half of Toronto's population was born outside Canada.

The scandal over the alleged video was compared to the 1990 arrest of former Washington Mayor Marion Barry who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation.

He served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction but was elected again to the D.C. Council in 1992 and continues to represent one of the city's poorest areas.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Sport
football
News
i100
Life and Style
Virtual reality headset: 'Essentially a cinema screen that you strap to your face'
techHow virtual reality is thrusting viewers into frontline of global events and putting film-goers at the heart of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness