Peter Nygard makes appeal for bail, proposes beefed up monitoring
A courtroom sketch shows Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard during a virtual appearance at the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench on Jan. 6, 2021. (Credit : La Liberté Manitoba/Tadens Mpwene)
WINNIPEG -- Peter Nygard is making another bid for bail with a revised plan that would beef up the monitoring of all his communications in response to a judge's concerns of witness tampering if he were released.
The former fashion mogul was denied bail on Feb. 5, 2021, leaving him behind bars at the Headingley Correctional Centre while he awaits an extradition hearing.
At the time, Queen’s Bench Justice Shawn Greenberg said she was satisfied that Nygard was a flight risk, and had concerns about witness tampering if Nygard were to be released.
In response to Nygard's lawyers' arguments that he – as a 79-year-old man with pre-existing medical conditions – was at an increased risk of COVID-19 within the jail, Greenberg said the pandemic is only one factor and should not be treated as a "get-out-of-jail-free card."
Nygard was arrested in December 2020 under the Extradition Act, and is facing charges from U.S. authorities which include sex trafficking and racketeering. The charges against him have not been proven in court.
In an appeal application filed in Manitoba's Court of Appeal on Feb. 25, 2021, Nygard's lawyers – which now include prominent Toronto-based lawyer Brian Greenspan – argued Justice Greenberg was "unfairly critical of the release plan."
Nygard's lawyers had proposed the fashion mogul would remain under house arrest in his Royalwood home in Winnipeg, and would be monitored around the clock using military-grade cameras. His lawyers said he would also wear an ankle bracelet.
In the appeal application – Nygard's lawyers propose a further step of monitoring Nygard's computers, mobile phones, and text messages.
They proposed Nygard would be allowed to speak with pre-approved people by telephone. All emails and text messages would be monitored in their entirety and given to an "independent third party monitor" each week.
The appeal application said this move is in response to Greenberg's concerns that "there is no ability to control the use of his (Nygard's) phone or the people who come and go to his home."
In a sworn affidavit submitted in court on Feb. 24, 2021, Ontario-based forensic investigator Matthew Musters said an app called Accountable2You could be installed on Nygard's phone, which would monitor and create daily reports showing call, email and text history, as well as browsing history, Google searches, screen time and GPS location.
In the affidavit, Musters said he would personally monitor Nygard's mobile phone and computer devices, and provide the daily reports to the court.
In the appeal, Nygard's lawyers said the allegations date back about 25 years, and would likely take "hundreds of hours" to review with his counsel. Nygard's lawyers said this would "effectively be impossible" if Nygard remains in custody due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A bail review in Manitoba's Court of Appeal has been set for March 18, 2021.