Fashion mogul Peter Nygard tries to block airing of CBC show, goes after Google
WINNIPEG — Fashion designer Peter Nygard has turned to the courts in Winnipeg, New York and San Jose in a bid to prevent CBC-TV from airing an investigation about him.
Nygard, chairman of Nygard International, a Winnipeg-based women’s wear company, also wants the courts in California to force Google to reveal the identity of someone who posted an item on an anonymous blog.
The crux of Nygard’s challenge was filed last March in Court of Queen’s Bench, but it now extends to courts in New York and California.
On Monday, the New York Times ran a story on its website that Nygard had lodged a copyright infringement complaint against the CBC alleging that reporter David Common and a cameraman had trespassed at his Manhattan store opening on Nov. 6.
In the Dec. 18 complaint, Nygard said he wants the CBC — which he alleges did not have permission to be at the event — forced to return to him the video they recorded and to be prohibited from airing it.
In Manitoba, Nygard’s legal challenge is more complex.
He wants the courts to rule that the CBC should be forbidden from airing a story he claims is based on confidential information supplied by two former employees in Winnipeg — ex-director of human resources Patrick Prowse and ex-recruitment and retention manager Dana Neal.
In his statement of claim, Nygard alleges Prowse and Neal were bound by confidentiality agreements and had no legal right to allegedly share information about their work at Nygard with local CBC researcher Timothy Sawa. Nygard also names The Fifth Estate executive producer David Studer in the claim.
Nygard alleges CBC has no legal basis to use their information in a story. He claims such a story would injure his reputation and cause loss of profit.
Nygard alleges in court documents that Prowse and Neal supplied CBC with information that included personnel records, lists of names of existing and former employees and flight manifests of Nygard’s personal aircraft. Videotapes of Nygard’s activities, unspecified in the court documents, were also allegedly disclosed.
Nygard is also suing Prowse, Neal and a third former employee.
Nygard International spokesperson Sharon Clarke issued a statement Monday saying that Nygard believes CBC will use the information it has collected to do serious damage to him.
“Nygard has alleged that CBC improperly conspired with and encouraged the employees to release confidential information to CBC,” Clarke said in the statement.
CBC spokesman Jeff Kaye said the public broadcaster would not comment.
On Dec. 4, Nygard International Partnership filed an application in San Jose to subpoena Google for identities of someone who posted an item on the blog www.shesomajor.com last year. The blog is about contemporary fashion, music and celebrities.
A post last fall contains information, photos and comments about the fire that destroyed Nygard’s massive Mayan-themed home in the Bahamas. The offending comment has been removed.
Nygard was in New York for the grand opening of his Times Square store at the time of the fire.
CBC Manitoba managing editor Cecil Rosner said in an affidavit filed in the Winnipeg case that Nygard’s suit is one of “libel chill.”
Rosner said Nygard is worthy of being profiled as he has considerable notoriety in Canada and conducts considerable business across the country and in other parts of the world.
Rosner said Nygard is also a matter of public interest on topics such as his treatment of employees, business conduct and practices, tax issues, immigration matters with employees and the conduct and treatment of individuals at social events.
“As a whole, I consider the actions and steps taken by the plaintiff and Mr. Nygard through his counsel as being an attempt to interfere with the freedom of the media to perform its constitutionally protected role and the media’s duty to investigate and disseminate information of public interest,” Rosner said in his affidavit.