Canada Senator Duffy Acquitted of 31 Charges Over Expenses

Canadian Senator Mike Duffy was acquitted Thursday of fraud and breach of trust charges, ending a three-year scandal that rocked the country’s upper chamber and contributed to the political downfall of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Ontario Court Judge Charles Vaillancourt delivered the 308-page verdict in Ottawa, clearing the senator and former journalist of all 31 charges. The acquittal was “resounding,” Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne told reporters outside the court. Duffy himself made no comment as he left the building. He had pleaded not guilty on all 31 counts.

The trial, which began in April 2015, became a political headache for Harper before his electoral defeat in October elections. Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright resigned in May 2013 after it was discovered he wrote a personal C$90,000 ($71,000) check to help Duffy cover some of his expenses.

The acquittal means Duffy is immediately reinstated to the Senate as a member in full standing with full salary and office resources, Michel Patrice, Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, said in a statement. Duffy had been on leave.

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