Ex-PMO lawyer believed Duffy cost had Harper approval

Benjamin Perrin, The PMO's former lawyer

Benjamin Perrin, The PMO’s former lawyer

The PMO’s former lawyer says he thought the prime minister had totally signed off on a plan to have Mike Duffy’s excellent Senate bills paid off by another person, an Ottawa courthouse heard Friday on the senator’s legal trial. Benjamin Perrin testified that he thought the prime minister had “personally authorized” a plan to pay again Duffy’s questionable Senate bills for him, with Duffy agreeing to publicly admit to a “potential error” in his paperwork. 

Perrin stated he received that impression from an e mail despatched by Nigel Wright, Harper’s former chief of employees, on Feb. 22, 2013. The e-mail in query, which was submitted into proof final week, included Wright’s much-discussed phrases: “We’re good to go from the PM.”

Wright testified final week that “good to go” meant Harper was conscious the bills could be paid with out taxpayer cash – not that they might be paid by somebody aside from Duffy himself.

Perrin interpreted that phrase otherwise on the time, he advised the court docket. He stated he thought Harper had given the go-ahead to a “five-point plan” he and Wright had hammered out with Duffy’s consultant on the time, which included a degree to maintain Duffy “entire on the compensation.” He stated that on the time, he thought Wright was “explicitly” talking for the prime minister in his position as chief of employees.

Perrin additionally advised the court docket he felt “blindsided” a month later, when he discovered that Wright had agreed to cowl Duffy’s bills with a private cheque for $90,000. Perrin stated he discovered concerning the cheque on March 22, 2013, forward of a convention name between PMO staffers and Duffy’s consultant.

Perrin insisted that Harper’s present chief of employees, Ray Novak, was current for that convention name on March 22, contradicting testimony from Wright earlier within the trial.

Perrin advised the court docket he particularly remembered Novak being within the room for the decision.
Wright was fired when the key cost got here to gentle, however Perrin’s testimony has raised questions on how a lot Novak knew concerning the deal. On Thursday, Perrin advised the court docket Novak was made conscious of the $90,000 cost on not less than two events.

Duffy’s deal

Defence lawyer Donald Bayne wrapped up his cross-examination of Perrin on Friday afternoon, after the Crown concluded their questioning earlier within the day.

Bayne questioned Perrin about Duffy’s reluctance on Feb. 20, 2013, when the senator was placing up resistance in his negotiations with the PMO.

“He was not concerned about voluntarily repaying on the time,” Perrin advised the court docket. “Senator Duffy did not need to repay.”

Perrin stated Duffy’s lawyer spoke to Wright that evening, however Perrin was “saved in the dead of night” about their dialog.

Perrin additionally characterised Duffy’s negotiation factors as an inventory of calls for.

“That is the way it was impressed on me, that these have been calls for,” he stated.

The Crown requested Perrin about a number of emails submitted as proof final week, which seem to indicate Perrin and Duffy’s lawyer hammering out phrases for the compensation deal. An e mail from March 25, 2013 exhibits Duffy’s consultant asking for an “assurance” that Conservative-appointed senators be urged to vote towards any movement to refer Duffy “for additional investigation or motion by Deloitte, the RCMP or another celebration.”

Perrin advised court docket on Friday this was the primary time anybody explicitly urged not referring the matter to the RCMP. He added he had detected no “whiff of criminality” as much as that time, and if he had, he stated he wouldn’t have agreed to it. “If pushed by Wright, I’d have gone to the PM. If pushed, I’d have been obliged to resign, as a result of it will have been unethical,” Perrin advised the court docket.

He added he satisfied Duffy’s lawyer to drop the RCMP from her proposed wording, as a result of he felt the “another celebration” line “was ample broad language.”

Questions on Novak

The trial has been a headache for the Conservatives’ election marketing campaign, and a continuing thorn in Stephen Harper’s aspect when addressing reporter questions over the previous few weeks.

Novak was Harper’s principal secretary on the time of the Duffy deal, and is taken into account one in every of his shut confidants.

A string of emails submitted as proof final week seem to indicate that Novak was a part of the PMO dialog about learn how to take care of Duffy’s compensation, whereas maintaining it out of the general public eye. Amongst these emails was one despatched from Wright to Novak and Perrin on March 23, 2013, which learn: “I’ll ship my cheque on Monday.”

Novak is a key member of Harper’s re-election marketing campaign, however he has been noticeably absent from the Conservative Chief’s aspect since his title began developing in court docket.

Harper has not addressed Novak’s state of affairs straight, however he did say on Thursday that anybody working for him has his “confidence.”

“In the event that they did not have my confidence, they would not be working for me,” Harper advised reporters in King Township, Ont.

He additionally insisted as soon as extra that Duffy and Wright have been the one ones in charge. “I’ve held the 2 folks accountable who’re accountable,” he stated. “I am not going to go round holding all people else accountable for his or her actions.”

Duffy has pleaded not responsible to 31 expenses, together with fraud, bribery and breach of belief.

Perrin’s testimony is finished, and court docket is adjourned till Monday.

  • CTV Information
Aline Niyonkuru

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