A Go Fund Me set up to help cover the legal fees of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman hopes to give some of the donated money to charity now that the government has agreed to cover his legal fees and reached a settlement for his retirement from the military.
Norman was suspended from his post as second-in-command of the Canadian military in 2017 and charged with breach of trust in 2018, with RCMP alleging he had leaked cabinet secrets. But the Crown stayed that charge in May 2019, citing lack of evidence.
The case was unprecedented from the get-go, with little initial information made available to the public about the abrupt removal, and senior government officials being both subpoenaed during the preliminary hearing and set to testify for both the Crown and the defence during the anticipated trial.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even weighed in twice, publicly predicting before charges were laid that the matter would end up before the courts.
However, the military refused to grant Norman access to legal support for members, forcing him to mount his own defence.
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He hired high-profile criminal defence lawyer Marie Henein, with his legal fees exceeding $500,000 before the Crown stayed the charge.
Lee Hammond, who served in the military with Norman and is the former director of strategic readiness with the Strategic Joint Staff, started the Go Fund Me for Norman in January 2018 to help cover those costs
It quickly brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions, much of it coming from current and former military members along with others who had worked with or knew Norman, including now-Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
In a joint press release on Wednesday though, Norman and the military said they had reached an agreement after two weeks of mediation and that it would result in Norman retiring from the military despite him having expressed a strong desire to return to his post, which had since been filled.
Hammond said now that Norman’s legal fees are being covered by the government, Norman will be replenishing the fund with the amount that was donated and that money can either be given back to the donors or given to several veterans’ charities currently under consideration.
“I will be discussing mechanisms by which the money received can be returned (or potentially donated to charity) depending on the ability of GOFUNDME to support such an approach and the wishes of the contributors. I will get back to everyone once I have more information.”
Hammond told Global News Norman will likely be able to start replenishing that fund next week when he receives the settlement money the government has agreed to pay to cover his expenses and stressed there will be no money staying with Norman himself from the fund.
The fund has raised a total of $442,810, the majority of which Hammond says was withdrawn by Norman’s legal team to cover their fees.