Wright testimony may hurt Crown's case in Duffy trial: criminal lawyer
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, August 12, 2015 7:41PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 12, 2015 8:33PM EDT
The Crown in the Mike Duffy trial may be hurting its own case by calling the prime minister’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright to the stand, a criminal lawyer said after Wright’s first day at court.
Ottawa criminal lawyer Michael Spratt told CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday that Wright’s testimony is having the opposite effect of what the Crown was probably hoping for.
“It’s a bit of an ironic situation that we find ourselves in,” said Spratt. “This is about quid pro quo, and corruption, and sort of nefarious dealing, and Nigel Wright seems to testify that it was quite the opposite.”
In his testimony, Wright said Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not aware that Wright would help Duffy repay his questionable Senate expenses by writing him a $90,000 personal cheque.
That testimony, Spratt said, doesn’t do much for the Crown’s case.
“It doesn’t sound a lot like a bribery and a fraud from what Mr. Wright said,” Spratt explained. “But we do know that Mr. Duffy has a different perspective.”
Spratt recalled Duffy’s speech on the floor of the Senate in October 2013 where he described a “monstrous scheme” to cover up the repayment. He expects Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne will continue to depict the deal as a scheme, despite Wright’s testimony suggesting otherwise.
“I expect what we’ll see is what Mr. Bayne does best,” said Spratt. “He’ll challenge Mr. Wright, I think, and try to paint this, maybe counterintuitively, as some sort of larger scheme that Mr. Duffy was perhaps forced to take part in.”
Duffy faces 31 charges, including fraud, bribery and breach of trust. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
All three major federal leaders were asked about the Duffy trial on the campaign trail Wednesday. While NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau jumped at the opportunity to use the trial as political leverage against Harper, the Conservative leader maintained that he did not know about the $90,000 cheque.
Spratt expects Harper’s name will come up a lot more in courtroom 33, as the Duffy trial continues.
“I expect they’ll hear the prime minister’s name a lot more going forward,” said Spratt.