Sherman brown’s full apology
Brown’s full apology, delivered in open court earlier this month, read:
“In various articles published by me between 2010 and 2015, I published a number of false and defamatory allegations about Mr Bacon and his associates for which I now apologise.
I made false allegations about Mr Bacon including that (i) Mr Bacon ordered the murder of two people which he will get away with because he has powerful connections with the Bahamian government and judiciary; (ii) Mr Bacon poses a national security threat to the people of The Bahamas; (iii) there are reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Bacon is engaged in illegal smuggling of drugs and weapons; (iv) Mr Bacon is a white supremacist, a racist and a member and supporter of the Ku Klux Klan; (v) Mr Bacon is determined to exclude native Bahamians from Clifton Bay.
I know that these allegations are entirely false and without any foundation and I should not have published them. I recognise that I have been an active participant in a smear campaign against Mr Bacon, orchestrated by Mr Peter Nygard and Mr Keod Smith, for which I apologise unreservedly. I have now completely removed myself from this malicious campaign and wholly condemn it. I apologise to Mr Bacon’s family for the distress caused.”
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FORMER ZNS reporter has admitted in open court to previously publishing numerous false and defamatory allegations about Lyford Cay billionaire Louis Bacon, pictured, for five years and that he did so at the “express instructions” of Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard and his former attorney Keod Smith for payment.
Sherman Brown admitted to being an “active participant” in Mr Nygard’s long-running “vendetta” against the latter’s Lyford Cay neighbour, as well as publishing damning allegations against Mr Bacon “as instructed and authorised” by Mr Nygard, Mr Smith and/or their agents with “actual malice” for “financial gain”.
Brown further confessed that while working for the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas between 2010 and 2015, he was also working on the side for Mr Nygard in the furtherance of a “smear campaign” being waged by the Canadian fashion tycoon against Mr Bacon.
Consequent to his admissions, Brown apologised “unreservedly” to the billionaire hedge fund manager and admitted to “not exercising due care” as a journalist when publishing the allegations and consequently accepting payments from Mr Nygard, Mr Smith and others in furtherance of the smear campaign.
Brown also charged that he has since “completely ended” his relationship with Messrs Nygard and Smith, and ceased to participate in their smear campaign against Mr Bacon and his associates.
According to court documents, between 2010 and 2015, Brown published a total of 98 articles and/or videos about Mr Bacon on his anonymous website Bahamas National, the majority of which were “adverse” to Mr Bacon or sought to “attack” his character.
Brown also published a further anonymous website about Mr Bacon called Bahamas Citizen, which is now defunct, according to the court documents.
Brown also attempted to persuade Adrian LaRoda, president of the Bahamas Commercial Fishing Alliance, to take part in a press conference at Stafford Creek Lodge in Andros where he was asked to read a defamatory press release about Mr Bacon provided to him by Mr Smith.
According to the court documents, between 2010 and 2015, Brown published, in exchange for an unspecified cumulative sum of money, a “series of extremely defamatory allegations” about Mr Bacon.
Those false allegations Brown admitted to publishing include Mr Bacon previously ordering the murder of two people “which he will get away with because he has powerful connections within the Bahamian government and the judiciary”; that Mr Bacon is a white supremacist, a racist and a member and supporter of the Ku Klux Klan; that there were reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Bacon of being engaged in the illegal smuggling of drugs and weapons; that Mr Bacon poses a national security threat to the people of the Bahamas; and that Mr Bacon is determined to exclude native Bahamians from Clifton Bay.
In particular, Brown, via his website Bahamas National, published two articles between June 27 and November 8, 2012, in which he accused Mr Bacon of allegedly being involved or responsible for the deaths of two persons, namely Dan Tuckfield and Peter Tuckerfield, and that he would consequently get away with it because if his alleged “powerful connection” with both arms of government.
In another article published on Bahamas National on January 17, 2013, Brown accused Mr Bacon of allegedly importing “high-powered supersonic speakers” that can bring down an aircraft, thus making him a threat to the Bahamas’ national security. In that article, Brown further alleged that Mr Bacon sent luxury watercraft to Panama and that there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect he did so because he was engaged in drugs and weapons smuggling.
In another article, Brown falsely accused Mr Bacon of ensuring that the bodies of two men who died suspicious deaths on his property were cremated and shipped out of the country before the police could investigate; sending a young man to burgle the home of Mr Nygard’s daughter Bianca Nygard; and sending people to Mr Nygard’s home, where those persons stole valuables and “violently attacked” a caretaker and subsequently left to die.
In that article, Brown also accused Mr Bacon of ordering the unlawful arrest and detention of workers who protested against his illegal decision to close a road in Lyford Cay that blocked access to their homes.
In another article, Brown accused Mr Bacon of allowing his “cache of illegally owned weapons” to be utilised as a means by which to fan warfare in the inner city of New Providence.
Brown also published two videos on Bahamas National on December 14, 2014 and January 1, 2015, one of which was narrated by Mr Smith. The video narrated by Mr Smith illustrated a number of images of KKK Klansmen, lynchings and footage of black slaves being led in rope chains and standing on the deck of a boat, ultimately purporting to paint Mr Bacon as a KKK member and supporter who has deliberately excluded native, black Bahamians from Clifton Cay.
The second video contained a false ABC News report that claimed Mr Bacon had been exposed as a member of the KKK, and was created by “splicing together” and doctoring a published news report that aired on October 26, 2012 titled “Inside the KKK.” However, while the report was published, it had nothing to do with and neither did it mention Mr Bacon.
Mr Bacon denied all of the words published in the articles and stated in the videos as false.
On October 26, 2011, Mr Bacon obtained an order against web developers Michael Rolle and Jason Graham, the webmasters of the Bahamas National and Bahamas Citizen websites.
The purpose of that application was to obtain the identities of the people responsible for publishing the defamatory information, and the persons who gave Messrs Rolle and Graham the defamatory context for publication.
Mr Rolle’s evidence ultimately revealed that Brown provided him with instructions concerning the set-up and construction of the Bahamas Citizen website and other matters.
As a result of that disclosure, on June 13, 2012, a further order was sought against Brown and Steve McKinney, which required Brown to provide relevant information as set out in the order within seven days.
Brown filed an affidavit purporting to comply with the terms of the order on July 9, 2013, however, Mr Bacon’s attorney criticised the affidavit as being “manifestly deficient.”
On August 23, 2013, Mr Bacon filed a summons directing Brown to appear before the registrar of the Supreme Court to be cross-examined under oath.
On November 17, 2014, Brown was examined under oath before the deputy registrar in relation to matters contained in the order. However, Mr Bacon alleged that in the course of that examination, Brown deliberately made certain false statements under oath.
Thus, on February 3, 2015, Mr Bacon applied for leave to commence committal proceedings against Brown. The committal application was supported by a sworn affidavit by Michela Barnett-Ellis that ultimately demonstrated how Brown deliberately misled the court by making the false statements, which were in turn contradicted by his own evidence, the evidence of several other individuals and “contemporaneous documentary evidence.”
Mr Bacon also issued defamation proceedings against Brown concerning the aforementioned allegations on December 22, 2014 and February 17, 2015.
Concerning the committal proceedings, Justice Indra Charles ultimately found in December 2015 that she was “satisfied beyond reasonable doubt” that Brown “knowingly and deliberately made false statements” before the deputy registrar of the Supreme Court in November 2014.
Justice Charles further said it was “striking” that throughout the duration of the many proceedings into the matter, “not one golden word” was said by Brown to challenge the “uncompromising allegations” of giving false testimony levied against him by Mr Bacon. She said Mr Brown “failed to file any affidavit evidence as ordered by the court.”
Concerning the defamation actions, however, Brown admitted in a public statement in open court to making and/or publishing the allegations against Mr Bacon at Mr Nygard’s behest, despite there being “no factual basis for any element of them.”
“I know that these allegations are entirely false and without any foundation and I should not have published them,” Brown said in his apology. “I recognise that I have been an active participant in a smear campaign against Mr Bacon, orchestrated by Mr Peter Nygard and Mr Keod Smith, for which I apologise unreservedly.
“I have now completely removed myself from this malicious campaign and wholly condemn it. I also apologise to Mr Bacon’s family for the distress caused.”
The aforementioned stems from an ongoing feud between Mr Bacon and Mr Nygard, who own adjacent mansions at Lyford Cay. Mr Bacon, an environmentalist, claims that Mr Nygard has retaliated against him because he believes it was Mr Bacon who complained about the alleged environmental damage being done by the dredging of the seabed to expand the Nygard Cay property.
Mr Bacon is suing Mr Nygard for $100m for defamation. He has alleged that the fashion designer organised rallies, marches and protests where he was defamed; created and distributed defamatory T-shirts and signs; published defamatory accusations about him and used websites to defame him.
However, Mr Nygard filed a $50m countersuit accusing Mr Bacon of a “vendetta” against him, including harassment and frivolous litigation. Each has denied the other’s allegations.
Last week, a New York appeals court ruled the 2015 defamation lawsuit filed by Mr Bacon against Mr Nygard can be heard in that state.