By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE bid of Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygard to have a judge recuse herself from his committal proceeding was stalled yesterday after his lawyer, who said he had sustained a recent injury, sought an adjournment.
Elliot Lockhart, QC, Mr Nygard’s lawyer, had filed a notice of motion in September for an order to have Justice Rhonda Bain “recuse herself from the trial of these proceedings on the ground of bias”.
The motion sought an order to stay all further proceedings against him pending the hearing of the motion and was supported by Nygard’s former attorney Keod Smith, who was found guilty of contempt “for scandalising the court” when he had filed affidavits alleging the judge had made a series of decisions against Mr Nygard based on her affiliation with the Free National Movement.
In yesterday’s expected recusal application hearing, however, Mr Lockhart said he could not proceed with the application at that time.
“I had an accident on Monday where I fell on my face resulting in an injury to my left shoulder, knee and my mouth,” Mr Lockhart told the court.
Mr Nygard’s lawyer acknowledged that this would be a second delay of the recusal application, with the first being due to a conflicting trial where he represented then murder-accused Donna Vasyli.
“But one cannot anticipate an accident and I have difficulty with my speech,” the lawyer added, expressing the discomfort he was feeling at the moment.
Fred Smith, QC, lead counsel for environmental group Save the Bays (STB), expressed disappointment at the latest delay.
“Obviously I am sympathetic to his predicament and I must applaud him for falling on his face and not his dog, but m’lady this is another adjournment sought,” Mr Smith said.
He added that substantial issues of the judicial review have been halted because of the allegations of bias and mismanagement that have been made before the court.
Mr Smith wanted the record to reflect that the adjournment was as a result of Mr Nygard’s legal team and not the court.
The parties ultimately agreed to hear the matter on December 14 at 10am.
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 sea bed.
The advocacy group has alleged that Mr 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.