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Environmental Group Denies Claims Of Judge Bias

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEYS for an environmental group yesterday refuted allegations that a Supreme Court judge facilitated the group in its attempts at serving Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygard with a notice of motion to commit for allegedly breaching the terms of an injunction barring him from engaging in development activities at his Lyford Cay home.

Fred Smith, QC, attorney for Save The Bays (STB), blasted Nygard’s attorney Elliot Lockhart, QC, for insinuating that Justice Rhonda Bain ordered the designer to appear and subsequently remain in court on June 19 just so STB could have the opportunity to serve him with a legal notice for the dredging he allegedly committed in April of this year at Nygard Cay (formerly Simms Point).

Mr Smith also slammed Mr Lockhart and his client for seeking to undermine “the administration of justice” in their attempts to have Justice Bain recused from Nygard’s committal hearings due to her alleged bias, as well as have all further proceedings against him stayed pending the hearing of the motion. Mr Smith said Mr Lockhart’s accusations of bias against Justice Bain are “transparently calculated to delay the progress of the first committal application” against Nygard.

According to court documents obtained by The Tribune, Nygard was served with his first legal notice in May for dredging, which it is alleged he committed in October 2014.

He received his second notice of motion to commit by STB’s attorneys in June for the dredging he allegedly committed in April of this year.

On June 18, Justice Bain had ordered that Nygard be present the next day for the committal hearing against him regarding the alleged October 2014 dredging and to determine whether or not he was in breach of the injunction against him.

Nygard was served with the second motion outside the courtroom.

In a previous affidavit in support of Justice Bain recusing herself from Nygard’s committal hearings on the grounds of bias, Nygard’s former attorney Keod Smith stated that both he and his client took the position that Nygard was ordered to remain in court that day “for the sole purpose of affording and/or facilitating” Fred Smith in serving Nygard with the legal notice, notwithstanding STB’s alleged numerous failed attempts to previously serve Nygard with the documents.

In that affidavit, dated September 17, 2015, Keod Smith also claimed that neither Justice Bain, Fred Smith, nor “any of its servants, agents or operatives” indicated to Nygard or his lawyer that STB “had or was about to commence another contempt application”.

During yesterday’s proceedings, however, Fred Smith responded by stating that the allegations did not have “one scintilla” of evidence to prove Justice Bain’s actual alleged bias aside from the one line in Keod Smith’s affidavit.

Fred Smith also criticised Mr Lockhart and his client for levelling accusations of bias against Justice Bain, stating that bias applications have the potential of undermining the administration of justice.

Justice Bain subsequently adjourned the matter to January 14, 2016 when she will deliver her judgment.

STB’s battle with Mr Nygard over the construction/development activities at his Lyford Cay home stem from allegations that the activities have led to substantial growth of the property. The group claims that the Lyford Cay resident has almost doubled his property’s size, from 3.25 acres to 6.1 acres, since he acquired it in 1984, by allegedly reclaiming Crown Land from the seabed.

The advocacy group has alleged that Nygard achieved this without the necessary permits and approvals, claims that have been denied by the fashion designer.

That comes against the backdrop of Justice Bain’s ruling in 2013 that until the conclusion of judicial review proceedings challenging the legality of the construction of a groyne and the dredging of the seabed off Nygard Cay, neither activity could continue. However, since then, STB has submitted photographic evidence in court purporting that the exact opposite has happened.

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