OTTAWA — Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff will spend yet another day on the hot seat at the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa.
Tuesday’s testimony from Nigel Wright largely centred on the prime minister’s current chief of staff and election director Ray Novak and directly contradicted statements made by the Conservative election campaign.
For several days, the Tory team has rejected evidence that suggested Novak was privy to Wright’s secret $90,000 repayment of Duffy’s contested expenses in 2013. Wright has also suggested in testimony that Novak did not know about the repayment.
But Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, read from a February 2014 police interview with Benjamin Perrin, a former lawyer in the Prime Minister’s Office, who said he was in a room a year earlier when Wright told him and Novak that he intended to repay Duffy’s questioned expenses.
Harper’s spokesman Kory Teneycke has told reporters it is “unfathomable” that Novak would be aware of a payment from Wright to Duffy and not tell the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the NDP is asking the RCMP to consider charges against Wright and up to a dozen other staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office for their part in covering up the scandal over Duffy’s expenses.
In a letter to RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus says testimony at the embattled senator’s trial has produced significant new evidence about the role played by Wright.
Angus says Wright’s testimony has also revealed that at least a dozen other senior staff in the Prime Minister’s Office were involved in a plan to make a secret payment to Duffy, interfere with an independent audit of his expenses and deliberately mislead the public about the entire affair.
Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in connection with his Senate claims.