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Duffy trial enters week 2, senate human resources employee to testify

Last Updated Apr 17, 2015 at 12:23 pm EST

Suspended senator Mike Duffy leaves the courthouse in Ottawa on April 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A senate human resources staffer takes the stand on Monday at the Mike Duffy trial.

Office contracts the suspended senator awarded for services ranging from speech writing to makeup are being reviewed in an Ottawa courtroom.

Duffy faces 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.

One set of charges relates to $65,000 in payments that were made to different contractors, allegedly through an umbrella fund set up with longtime Duffy friend Gerald Donohue.

Prosecutor Jason Neubauer is questioning Senate human resources officer Sonia Makhlouf, who directly reviewed Duffy’s service contract requests.

The Crown has alleged that Duffy worked through Donohue to avoid the scrutiny of Senate officials.

Defence lawyer Donald Bayne last week said that Duffy is perhaps guilty of only administrative errors, and there’s no evidence of criminal behaviour.

The suspended senator himself is expected to testify in the coming weeks — a move some are calling risky.

Michael Spratt, a defence lawyer who has been following this case, said a good chunk of the defence argument is based on intent.

“Really the only person that can tell us what was going on in Mike Duffy’s head is Mike Duffy,” Spratt said.

Spratt said the crown will be going over every email and statement made by Duffy, trying to poke holes in his story.

Duffy is expected to testify in June and Spratt said if the crown does find conflicts it could do damage to the suspended senator’s credibility and his case.
Parliament Hill reporter Cormac MacSweeney is reporting live from the courtroom. See his tweets in real time here.