Mark Norman's defence fund may be donated to charity, organizer says
The GoFundMe campaign raised $442,810
The organizer of a legal defence fund for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman says the nearly half-a-million dollars raised on his behalf will either be returned to donors or given to charity.
Retired army colonel Lee Hammond set up the GoFundMe campaign in January 2018 with an initial goal of raising $50,000. That target was bumped up to $200,000, and eventually to $500,000, as court proceedings dragged on.
The fund currently sits at $442,810.
The federal government initially refused to pay Norman's legal fees, but reversed that decision after the Crown stayed a single charge of breach of trust against the former vice chief of the defence staff.
A settlement was reached Wednesday between Norman's lawyers and Department of Justice attorneys, the terms of which were sealed under a confidentiality agreement.
A note posted by Hammond to the GoFundMe page said he was exploring "mechanisms by which the money received can be returned (or potentially donated to charity)."
Refunds would depend, he said, on the website's ability to handle them for the approximately 3,547 people who donated.
Most of the people posting comments on the page have said they believe the funds should go to a veterans' charity.
Hammond, who served with Norman, was not immediately available for comment.
The fund's supporters included many high-profile Conservatives and prominent former soldiers — among them a former defence minister, at least one former chief of staff to a Conservative prime minister, an ex-MP and a bevy of retired generals.
Norman was not available for comment today, but at a news conference following the end of his criminal case he paid special tribute to those who supported him and his family.
"We simply would have never made it here without your generosity and help," said Norman, who noted in the May 8 news conference that some of the most inspiring moments of the ordeal came from letters and donations he received from Second World War veterans.