‘Nothing will be hidden’: RCMP says questions about Nigel Wright will be answered
OTTAWA – The lead investigator on the Mike Duffy case says the reasons why the Mounties didn’t charge former chief of staff Nigel Wright will be made public – possibly in court.
“Once the whole investigative process follows its path, then those reasons will be made public,” RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton told Global News in a brief interview Monday.
“Nothing will be hidden. It will all be publicly disclosed at some point.”
In his first public comments since the Senate scandal broke last spring, Horton said the reasons why Wright wasn’t charged are “well-documented” and will be revealed either in court or an access to information request.
“It’ll come out either through court disclosure or through an ATIP (access to information and privacy) request by somebody down the road, because everything is publicly available at some point once the investigation’s completed,” Horton said, as he left an Ottawa courthouse.
“The documents that we’ve written will come out into the public, it’s just a matter of timing.”
The RCMP recently announced that Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, would not be charged following revelations he secretly gave Duffy $90,000 to repay his ineligible Senate expenses.
But the plea for patience is not good enough for the Official Opposition.
The NDP has written to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, asking for “clarification” as to why the RCMP dropped Wright’s criminal case.
Charlie Angus, the NDP’s ethics critic, says in a letter sent late last week that it appears Wright potentially breached Section 16 of the Parliament of Canada Act.
The Act says it is an indictable offence to offer compensation to a member of the Senate in regard to any claim, controversy, arrest, or other matter before the Senate.
“Like many Canadians, I do not understand how it can be that writing a secret personal payment out of the Prime Minister’s Office to a sitting senator doesn’t contravene the law,” Angus wrote.
“If Mr. Wright’s actions did not cross this line, the average Canadian is justifiably left wondering where exactly the legal and ethical line is in Ottawa today.”
Paulson recently defended his investigators’ handling of the Duffy-Wright affair in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen.
“They have meticulously unpacked and sewn together an incredibly complex set of actions and behaviours into an authoritative account of what happened. In the time-honoured traditions of this police force they did so without fear of prejudice, nor hope of advantage, favour or affection,” Paulson wrote.
“As the broader investigation remains unresolved and out of respect for the process, I ask Canadians for patience and understanding while we finish our work.”
Global News reported last week that it is likely Duffy will be charged next month in relation to the Senate spending scandal. The RCMP and provincial Crown prosecutors are reportedly in talks to lay charges against the suspended senator.
WATCH: Global News has learned the investigation into suspended Senator Mike Duffy is over, but he isn’t in the clear yet.
Both Duffy and Wright had been under criminal investigation since last summer for bribery, breach of trust and defrauding the government.
The RCMP originally indicated it had grounds to believe Wright contravened section 119 of the Criminal Code, which deals with the bribery of judicial officials. The law prohibits anyone from “corruptly” giving or offering a Parliamentarian “any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment” in respect to anything done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.
The Mounties later said the evidence “does not support” criminal charges against Wright.
Sources said the RCMP told Wright he may be called as a witness in a future proceeding, but there was no bargaining with police over charges and no deal regarding his testimony.
Wright maintains his intention was always to secure the repayment of taxpayer funds, and says his actions were in the public interest and lawful.
Democracy Watch, a nonpartisan watchdog group, recently announced it is considering private prosecution against Wright for his role in giving Duffy money to repay his expenses.
Co-founder Duff Conacher, an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, said he plans to proceed with an independent charge against Wright very soon – although it can be quashed by the provincial attorney general.
He called on the Crown and RCMP to explain why they believe Wright didn’t break the law.
“How is it in the public interest to keep the prosecutor’s reasons, and the RCMP’s reasons, secret?” said Conacher.
When asked about the watchdog group’s concerns, Horton said, “I can’t comment on Democracy Watch.”
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