By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
AN application to commit Lyford Cay fashion designer Peter Nygard to prison has been suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of a recusal hearing against a Supreme Court judge due to her alleged bias, The Tribune can confirm.
Court documents obtained by The Tribune show that Elliot Lockhart, QC, attorney for Mr Nygard, filed a notice of motion last week Thursday for an order to have Justice Rhonda Bain “recuse herself from the trial of these proceedings on the ground of bias”.
The motion also showed that Mr Nygard was seeking an order to stay all further proceedings against him pending the hearing of the motion.
Additionally, in another affidavit obtained by The Tribune, Keod Smith, Mr Nygard’s former attorney, lodged his support of Mr Nygard’s recusal application.
Mr Smith, while previously engaged by Mr Nygard, had also sought to have Justice Bain recuse herself from the matter, alleging that she had made a series of decisions against Mr Nygard based on her affiliation with the Free National Movement (FNM). Those allegations however, resulted in Justice Bain finding Mr Smith guilty of contempt “for scandalising the court”.
Nonetheless, environmental group Save the Bays (STB), formerly known as the Coalition to Save Clifton Bay, refuted Mr Nygard’s recusal application. In another affidavit obtained by The Tribune, Adrian Gibson, part of STB’s legal team, said the recusal application is “clearly misconceived” and an “abuse of the process of the court” which is “transparently calculated to delay the progress of the first committal application”.
Mr Gibson called for the recusal application to be dismissed with costs to (STB) “on a full indemnity basis”.
The Tribune understands that on Monday counsel for Mr Nygard as well as counsel for STB appeared before Justice Bain for a hearing into STB’s motion to commit Mr Nygard to prison for breaching the terms of the injunction.
However, both parties reportedly agreed that the hearing into the committal application could not proceed in light of Mr Nygard having filed the recusal application the week prior. Another factor, The Tribune understands, was Mr Lockhart also having to serve as counsel for murder accused Donna Vasyli that same day.
As a result, the committal hearings were adjourned until the conclusion of the hearings into Mr Nygard’s recusal application. That hearing is scheduled to resume today at 2.30pm, at which time Justice Bain will give her directions on the way forward.
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.
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.