Nassau, Bahamas — As billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon attempts to sell his Lyford Cay home amid an ongoing court battle with Peter Nygard, the Canadian fashion mogul has won another court battle on his home turf.
On Friday, a Canadian judge rejected an attempt by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to quash a lawsuit Nygard launched against the broadcaster that alleges it criminally libeled the billionaire fashion mogul in a program when it aired ‘Larger Than Life’, a Fifth Estate documentary that made serious allegations about Mr. Nygard’s treatment of some of his former employees.
The lawsuit is among several that Mr. Nygard has launched throughout the world regarding the broadcast of the documentary.
Earlier this year, a private investigator hired by Mr. Nygard filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, which levied excoriating accusations at the CBC and Bacon and his affiliates.
The lawsuit in which Mr. Nygard had his most recent court victory alleges that the CBC induced and conspired with Mr. Nygard employees to breach confidentiality agreements they had signed with the fashion company in the making of the documentary. Others named in the suit are CBC employees Tim Sawa, David Studer, Patrick Prowse, and Dana Neal.
In upholding the Oct. 22 decision by a lower court, Judge Diana Cameron of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench said the CBC was essentially arguing “for constitutional immunity from any litigation that might implicate their manner of gathering and disseminating information.”
“Such a claim cannot be sustained under a blanket assertion of freedom of expression,” Cameron wrote. Nygard officials were pleased with the court’s decision. “Justice Cameron has agreed with the decision of Master Lee that freedom of expression exercised by the media is not without restrictions or limitation,” said Nygard spokeswoman Sharon Clarke. “Nygard International will continue to pursue its lawsuit against CBC for the recovery of substantial damages resulting from the illegal conduct of CBC employees.”
An article in the Winnipeg Sun noted that in April, “a private criminal prosecution for defamatory libel was launched by Nygard officials against CBC and three of its employees — Sawa, Morris Karp, and Fifth Estate host Bob McKeown — relating to the documentary.”
“A civil suit was hatched around the same time in the Bahamas, where Nygard lives at his posh resort for much of the year. Lawyers for Nygard allege the CBC and others — including Nygard’s former neighbour, billionaire Louis Bacon — conspired to tarnish his name in an effort to have his permanent resident status in that country revoked.”
Nygard says employees signed confidentiality agreements upon being hired, which the company says means they shouldn’t have talked to the CBC, the Sun noted, adding that the company also contends the CBC induced these employees to break their legal agreements.
Nygard officials also allege the CBC conspired with enemies of Nygard to discredit him. Those people include billionaire Louis Bacon, Nygard’s former neighbour in Lyford Cay.
An article in the Sun last month reported that police on St. Lucia said Allan May – and his wife Michelle (currently still a fugitive from justice in the Caribbean nation) – were found in contempt of court last fall after failing to repay $189,000 to five investors following a civil fraud conviction in April 2009.
“According to police in St. Lucia, the couple has ‘a history of committing frauds in other Caribbean islands, leaving each jurisdiction for the next island when identified by law enforcement officials’,” the Sun reported recently.
The Mays were the subjects of an action for civil fraud.
The couple made headlines in Canada after making accusations against Mr. Nygard, who was their employer in The Bahamas, in an interview that appeared on a CBC Fifth Estate programme in April of last year.
Mr. Nygard has sued the CBC, Bacon and numerous other parties in relation the programmame, entitled “Larger The Life”.
Mr. Nygard’s investigation into the programme’s production has also led to direct criminal prosecution for defamatory libel of the CBC and the programme’s producers.
“The arrest is further evidence of the CBC building their tabloid story on fabricated information provided by Allan and Michelle May,” an England-based spokesman for Nygard International said told The Sun. “Nygard’s lawyers had provided the CBC pages of facts on the past fraudulent conduct of the Mays. In spite of this, CBC’s Fifth Estate chose to base 50 per cent of their tabloid-style story on false testimony from the Mays.”
Allan May is expected back in court this week.
An affidavit filed in the Supreme Court earlier this year, connected the documentary to some of Bacon’s Bahamian associates, as it recounted the sworn testimony of Alick Morrison, a former Scotland Yard detective turned security consultant/private investigator, after the CBC story made news around the world.
“Bacon apparently enlisted the support of the Lyford Cay Property Owners Association (LCPOA) and its general manager, Mary Braithwaite to attack Nygard,” the affidavit said.
“He has additionally engaged a prominent Bahamian lawyer, Pericles Maillis (Bacon’s Bahamian lawyer) – who also represents LCPOA – to attack Nygard on various grounds. An investigation has revealed that CBC used corrupt and discredited sources for the purpose of an expose story. Those sources had the further aim of forcing Nygard out of The Bahamas,” said the court document.