Criminal Law

Neuberger on Nigel Wright's testimony: Mike Duffy trial

The testimony of Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright went a long way to support why he hasn’t faced bribery charges and also undermined the overall strength of the bribery charge against suspended senator Mike Duffy, Toronto criminal lawyer Joseph Neuberger tells CBC’s The National.

“It seems that Nigel Wright on his own made the decision to write a cheque out of his own account to make the payment to Mike Duffy and I haven’t seen any evidence, directly or indirectly, to suggest that it was under the direction of the government, the PMO office or the prime minister,” Neuberger says.

Neuberger doesn't represent any of the parties in the case and is speaking generally on the matter.

On Wright's first day on the witness stand, he explained the actions that led to his decision to give Duffy $90,000 in order to repay his disallowed housing and travel claims, reports the Canadian Press.

He testified that he did not inform the prime minister of a plan that would have seen the Conservative party pay Duffy's dubious expense filings, says the wire service.

Neuberger, partner at Neuberger & Partners LLP, says the Crown tried to lay out the foundation of the $90,000 payment to Duffy from Wright during the first day of Wright’s testimony.

“But, in my opinion, I think the Crown has laid a pretty good foundation for the defence,” he says.

Neuberger points to a number of emails that the Crown presented.

“There is a fair amount of paperwork and statements by Mike Duffy in those documents, which I think are very fruitful areas for cross-examination for the defence,” he says. “And so although the Crown has established a large part of their case, they have certainly handed a lot of documents and fodder to the defence team.”

Neuberger expects the defence to come out strong in the coming days with vigorous cross-examination.

“There’s a tremendous amount of information within the emails now that are in evidence to cross-examine on to show that Mike Duffy had taken a very strong position that he felt he was following instructions and rules that he was told about originally,” he says.

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