TORONTO - Patrick Brown's publisher says the former Progressive Conservative leader's tell-all book is not defamatory because the facts laid out in it are true.

Optimum Publishing International also says any opinions expressed in "Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown" are fair comment made without malice on matters of public interest.

Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has filed a defamation lawsuit against Brown and Optimum over allegations made in the book, which he describes in his statement of claim as a "vicious and petulant attack on his character."

Fedeli alleges the book contains false and defamatory comments about alleged sexual misconduct and a slew of other problematic statements.

In their statement of defence, Optimum and its director, Dean Baxendale, say the book makes it clear the allegations of sexual misconduct against Fedeli have not been verified "in court or by way of a workplace investigation."

They also say they and Brown took reasonable steps to verify the contents of the book, "including obtaining relevant documents and speaking with multiple sources."