OTTAWA -- The prime minister says his chief of staff was "dismissed" earlier this year after writing a $90,000 cheque to pay back Sen. Mike Duffy's inappropriate expenses.

Stephen Harper's comment on a Halifax radio show today is at odds with his statement in May that Nigel Wright resigned over the inappropriate payment.

The claim adds a new twist to a complex saga that is expected to take a new turn this week, with the Senate voting on whether to suspend without pay Duffy and two other senators -- Pam Wallin and Patrick Brazeau -- over inappropriate expenses.

Some senators have said the trio deserve a full hearing and due process, and there are suggestions the Conservative leaders in the Senate may soften the motion.

But Harper today called on the Senate to press for full suspension, saying the standard for being booted out of the upper chamber should be higher than simply being convicted of a crime.

He said having misappropriated hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars is reason enough for the tough action.