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'Real Housewife' files defence in libel suit

VANCOUVER - A former star of the "Real Housewives of Vancouver" denies she defamed castmate Jody Claman in the wake of a shooting that injured Claman's daughter.

Claman and her daughter, Mia Deakin, are suing former cast member Mary Zilba for comments she made during a CBC interview the day after the shooting in June.

Deakin, a frequent guest star on the TV show, was wounded in a drive-by shooting in the east side of Vancouver. She and a male companion were at a gas station at the time of the shooting, and police later said the man appeared to be the intended target.

The lawsuit alleged Zilba's interview with the CBC falsely suggested Deakin was associated with criminals and was involved in criminal behaviour herself. The lawsuit also claims Zilba suggested Claman knew or ought to have known about her daughter's alleged nefarious associations.

Zilba has filed a statement of defence denying she defamed either woman.

Zilba's response rejects Claman and Deakin's interpretation of her comments to the CBC.

"The words complained of ... are not capable of being defamatory of the plaintiffs and are not in fact defamatory of the plaintiffs, either in their literal meaning, inferential meaning or innuendo meanings as alleged," says the statement of defence.

The statement of defence says that even if Zilba's comments were defamatory, they were "true in substance or fact" or should be considered fair comment.

The Canadian version of the "Real Housewives" franchise followed the lives of a group of wealthy women for two seasons.

On a TV show that revelled in documenting infighting among its stars, Claman and Zilba's relationship stood out as particularly acerbic.

The show was cancelled last year.

Police never specifically named Deakin as the victim of the shooting, but her initial statement of claim confirmed she was shot.

In June, police said the female victim was hit in the shoulder when a grey or silver SUV pulled up and someone inside started firing.

The man who was with her suffered minor injuries and fled, but he was later picked up by police and arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving while prohibited.

The statement of claim said Deakin was "seriously injured."

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