The Mike Duffy dossier: What you missed in his courtroom drama
In April, 2016, a judge dismissed all 31 charges against senator Mike Duffy after a politically charged trial on fraud and bribery allegations. In August, 2017, Duffy announced that he is suing the Senate and government for nearly $8-million. Here's a look back at the court case
Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt delivered his verdict in Mike Duffy's case in an Ottawa courtroom in April, 2016.
Here's a list of the 31 charges.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Mr. Duffy, appointed as a Conservative senator in 2008 by prime minister Stephen Harper, was one of several people in the Red Chamber to come under investigation three years ago after auditors found inconsistencies in their expense claims. He was booted from the Conservative caucus and suspended from the Senate. The Mounties opened a criminal probe in his case in June, 2013.
WHAT WAS HE CHARGED WITH?
In 2014, the RCMP laid 31 criminal charges against Mr. Duffy. The charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to his housing and travel expenses from 2009 to 2012. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TRIAL
The $90,000 question
Nigel Wright, the trial's star witness, had been Mr. Harper's former chief of staff until it was revealed in 2013 that he gave Mr. Duffy a $90,000 cheque to repay questionable expense claims. The RCMP investigated Mr. Wright for this, but did not charge him.
In August, 2015, his six days of testimony – backed up by volumes of e-mail correspondence between him and senior party officials – offered rare insight into how the Conservatives handled the expenses scandal behind the scenes. (Here, The Globe and Mail's Bill Curry reconstructs the alleged chronology of events in the frantic 24 hours leading up to Feb. 22, 2013, when Mr. Duffy publicly announced that he would repay his expenses.)
The political theatre
The 10 days of testimony in August, 2015, dogged the Conservatives on the campaign trail, with Mr. Harper dodging questions about how his versions of events differed from Mr. Duffy's and some polls indicating that support for the Tories deteriorated because of what voters were hearing from the courtroom. In October, 2015, the Conservatives lost the election to Justin Trudeau's Liberals.
'I was all alone …'
After the election, the trial resumed with testimony from Mr. Duffy's friend Gerald Donohue and others before, in December, 2015, Mr. Duffy testified himself. In his version of events, the Conservative establishment betrayed him to avoid a political scandal and bullied him into the scheme to repay his expenses when, he insisted, he had done nothing wrong. "I knew they were building a scaffold and everywhere I looked I saw people who were betraying me, leaking stuff to the media that wasn't true," he told the court. "I was all alone …" The trial ended on Dec. 17, its 60th day, without the prosecution having asked him about the $90,000 cheque.
The last words
In February, 2016, closing submissions, Crown prosecutor Mark Holmes accused Mr. Duffy of exaggerating and fabricating details to make himself look better, while defence counsel Donald Bayne called Mr. Wright a "Scripture-shouting, self-righteous" man whose testimony was not reliable.
- Mr. Holmes: “[Mr. Duffy is] not reliable and he’s not at all concerned, it would seem, about just conjuring up facts. It may work in broadcasting, but it is outrageous for a witness to do that at a criminal trial.”
- Mr. Bayne: “[Mr. Duffy] has been through a tremendous ordeal. He’s been humiliated and ridiculed, and that will continue to go on. Few have ever been in his position.”
With reports from Steven Chase, Daniel Leblanc, Laura Stone and The Canadian Press
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