Criminal libel case between Peter Nygard, CBC proceeds

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Canadian journalists summons by judge

DEAN PRITCHARD | QMI AGENCY

Peter Nygard

WINNIPEG – A court showdown between Manitoba fashion mogul Peter Nygard and the CBC is one step closer to reality after a judge issued court summons this week for the national broadcaster and three of its journalists.

The CBC, Fifth Estate host Bob McKeown, and producers Timothy Sawa and Morris Karp have been summoned to appear in Winnipeg court Wednesday on charges of defamatory libel.

The charges are the subject of a private criminal prosecution Nygard set in motion following the airing of a Fifth Estate documentary in April 2010.

An in-camera court hearing on the matter was held last May. On Monday, provincial court Judge Sid Lerner ruled there was sufficient evidence for the private prosecution to proceed. Details of the hearing and Lerner’s ruling have been sealed and cannot be disclosed.

“Defamatory libel is an unusual charge to begin with … but a defamatory libel prosecution against our national broadcasting corporation and two producers and a commentator is really without precedent in the annals of Canadian legal history,” Nygard’s lawyer Jay Prober said Friday.

CBC lawyer Chris Wullum declined comment Friday saying he had yet to be served notice of the court appearance.

The CBC and three named journalists are accused of defamatory libel and publishing a defamatory libel knowing it to be false. The maximum sentences for the offences are two years and five years in prison, respectively.

Defamatory libel is defined in the Criminal Code as “matter published, without lawful justification or excuse, that is likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule or that is designed to insult the person of or concerning whom it is published.”