Manitoba

Crown prosecutor stays charges against CBC News over 2010 Nygard documentary, citing delays

A decade-long legal battle between clothing manufacturer Peter Nygard and CBC News reached a conclusion Monday, after a Crown prosecutor stayed libel charges against the CBC because of delays.

The libel charges stem from The Fifth Estate's investigation called Larger than Life

Charges of publishing defamatory libel stemmed from a 2010 documentary produced by The Fifth Estate called Larger than Life, which focused on Nygard. (Gustavo Caballero/Churchill Downs/Getty Images)

A decade-long legal battle between clothing manufacturer Peter Nygard and CBC News reached a conclusion Monday, after a Crown prosecutor stayed libel charges against the CBC because of delays.

CBC was charged with publishing defamatory libel through private criminal prosecution, a rare proceeding that allows private individuals — without the help of police or Crown attorneys — to bring criminal charges under a seldom-used portion of Canada's Criminal Code.

Crown prosecutor Russ Ridd stayed the charges Monday, citing delays.

"CBC has always stood by its journalism covering the activities of Mr. Nygard. We are relieved the Crown has agreed there is no public interest in allowing this malicious prosecution of our journalists to continue," a CBC spokesperson said via email on Monday.

CBC News has reached out to the Crown attorney and Nygard's lawyer, Jay Prober, but neither immediately responded.

The libel charges stem from a 2010 documentary produced by The Fifth Estate called Larger than Life, which focused on Nygard.

In 2011 and 2012, Alick Morrison, a private investigator for Nygard, swore before a Manitoba justice of the peace that he believed CBC and journalists Timothy Sawa, Morris Karp and Bob McKeown were guilty of publishing defamatory libel about Nygard in the documentary.

The prosecution argued that the documentary alleges Nygard engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviour.

In a 2019 preliminary inquiry, Manitoba provincial court judge Larry Allen approved a publication ban on the case, because evidence brought forward by prosecution lawyer Jay Prober was "so salacious and so prejudicial that it could influence any potential jurors."

"I think this is the kind of information that could, potentially, be so concerning to the public that the chances of a fair trial in the future might be affected," Allen said at the time.

Nygard is the focus of a class-action lawsuit involving 57 women accusing him of sexual assault or rape, dating back to 1977.

The class-action is still before the courts.

With files from Aidan Geary

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