Duffy-Wright deal: PMO pays $10K in legal fees for former staffer
Legal fees paid for David Van Hemmen, Nigel Wright's former executive assistant
The government has spent $10,500 to cover legal fees for David Van Hemmen, a former staffer in the Prime Minister's Office, in relation to the RCMP investigation into a payment from former chief of staff Nigel Wright to Senator Mike Duffy.
Confirmation of the payment to Ottawa law firm Carroll and Wallace was included in a sheaf of documents tabled in the House on Monday in response to a written question from New Democrat ethics critic Charlie Angus on the government's use of outside legal firms.
The amount is listed in the response with the note "RCMP investigation - payment by Nigel Wright to Senator Mike Duffy."
Van Hemmen served as Wright's executive assistant throughout the negotiations with the embattled senator to repay his ineligible expense claims. Van Hemmen is mentioned in several emails filed in court by the RCMP last year.
He now works as a policy adviser in the office of Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson.
Legal fees for others to be covered as well
A senior government source confirmed the payment.
"Under long-standing government policy, ministers of the Crown and their staff can receive legal assistance and/or indemnification for lawsuits against them in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines."
The government will be covering legal costs for other former PMO staffers, the source added.
"If they haven't been disclosed, it's because no fees have been paid yet; either they have not been invoiced, or are being reviewed and processed."
Payment raises question: NDP
Angus told CBC News the payment raises more questions.
"Why did the former executive assistant to Nigel Wright know about the deal, and why did [the Privy Council Office] hire an external firm to give him legal counsel? Canadians deserve to know the truth."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly denied that his office is under investigation.