TORONTO, June 5 (UPI) -- U.S. website Gawker.com said a cellphone video purportedly showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine "is gone."
Gawker editor-in-chief John Cook said Tuesday an intermediary who had contact with the owner of the video told him he fears the footage is gone.
"At the end of last week, after a long silence, the video's owner reached out to the intermediary we have been dealing with. [The owner] told [the intermediary] the video is 'gone,'" Cook wrote in a post on Gawker.com.
Gawker raised $200,000 to buy the video from from its owner.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said there are now questions whether the video was seized by police as part of the homicide investigation into the death of Anthony Smith, 21. Smith is in a photograph with Ford provided to Gawker and the Toronto Star by the same people who showed them the video.
At least six media organizations have asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to look inside sealed evidence to see whether it contains the video, the CBC reported.
Cook said the intermediary at one time said a copy of the video was made and taken outside Toronto for safekeeping, the Toronto Star reported.
"We don't know if that's true, or, if it is, whether that copy is also 'gone.' We can still imagine any number of scenarios in which this video comes to light," Cook said.
Ford has denied using crack and said "there's no video," but the Star reported Thursday Ford told senior aides in a May 17 meeting in his office not to worry about the video because he knew where it was.
The report said Ford, citing "our sources," told his aides the video was in two 17th-floor units of a Toronto apartment complex.