Justice officials say Nygard not getting special treatment


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JAILED fashion magnate Peter Nygard is not receiving “special treatment,” Manitoba Justice officials have insisted in the face of nagging questions about his enhanced phone access while in custody.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/03/2021 (736 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

JAILED fashion magnate Peter Nygard is not receiving “special treatment,” Manitoba Justice officials have insisted in the face of nagging questions about his enhanced phone access while in custody.

One Winnipeg defence lawyer Thursday dismissed that claim as “preposterous.”

“I have never, ever had one of my numerous clients given access to a phone right in his cell,” said the lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “(The claim) is absolutely preposterous that he is not getting special treatment.”

Nygard, 79, has been in custody since Dec. 14, first at the Winnipeg Remand Centre and most recently at Headingley Correctional Centre, following his arrest on a provisional extradition warrant.

He faces possible extradition to the United States, where he has been charged with nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering for offences that span decades and involve dozens of alleged victims.

In a court affidavit, provided by jail assistant superintendent of security Todd Schreyer, Nygard has a cell for three inmates to himself, with a television and exclusive access to a phone from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.

“No other cell at (the jail) has similar phone access,” Schreyer said in his affidavit.

Nygard is being treated no differently than any other inmate in his circumstances, a Manitoba Justice spokesperson said in an email statement to the Free Press late Wednesday.

“Mr. Nygard is not receiving special treatment, nor has he been granted special privileges as asserted in the media,” the spokesperson said.

Nygard is in protective custody and does not have the same access to phones and televisions as other inmates do in common areas of the jail, the spokesperson said.

“As a matter of necessity to ensure safety, this individual has been placed in a cell that has been used in the past, and will continue to be used for those requiring isolation for the purposes of protective custody,” the spokesperson said. “The individual’s safety was the main consideration in this placement, although his cell and many others have a fee-for-service landline telephone… and television.”

A Manitoba Justice spokesperson did not respond to followup questions Thursday, including whether any other inmate in segregation has telephone access in his cell.

The defence lawyer source said inmates who are in protective custody are allowed to call only their lawyers, and only once per day.

Said another defence lawyer: “Peter’s got it pretty good right now,” with access to “luxuries not usually afforded to other inmates.”

The difference for Nygard, the lawyer speculated, is that he is not being held in custody for any crimes alleged to have been committed here.

“He’s not being punished — he’s being protected,” the lawyer said.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal is considering whether Nygard can be released on bail.

Queen’s Bench Justice Shawn Greenberg denied Nygard bail last month. She ruled that security and monitoring measures proposed by Nygard — to satisfy justice officials he would not flee from a $1-million home on John Bruce Road in Winnipeg — would not prevent him from tampering with alleged victims or witnesses by phone, or having someone do it on his behalf.

A new bail plan put before the Court of Appeal proposes to install sophisticated monitoring software on all of Nygard’s cellphones and electronic devices that would alert a monitoring service of any suspect communications.

Nygard’s lawyers have argued they need to meet with him regularly to prepare their case, something that is not possible under pandemic restrictions. They also say Nygard is in failing health and at greater risk of dire medical consequences should he contract COVID-19 while in custody. With the pandemic, more inmates are spending time in segregation, when they are only provided 30 minutes to access a phone, said lawyer Karl Gowenlock.

“The idea that they be given a phone — my jaw dropped when I read that,” Gowenlock said.

“To be fair, I can’t think of another instance of someone being in jail on remand of that age and frailty” he said. “Maybe he should get special treatment just for that.”


Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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