Mike Duffy lawyers raise spectre of past scandal in bid to sue Senate

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OTTAWA — Sen. Mike Duffy’s lawyers are recalling the political scandal surrounding his expense claims in a bid to keep the Senate in the crosshairs of his multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

Lawyers for the Senate spent hours Wednesday arguing the upper chamber’s disciplinary actions are shielded by parliamentary privilege — a centuries-old right designed to protect legislators from legal consequence in the course of doing their jobs.

Duffy’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, says the upper chamber gave up that protective privilege when Conservative senators allowed the Prime Minister’s Office to dictate decisions around Duffy’s punishments five years ago.

Duffy is in the courtroom for the second of two days of hearings on a Senate motion that seeks to get the chamber off the hook in the lawsuit.

He is seeking more than $7.8 million in damages from the Senate and the Mounties in the wake of the high-profile investigation and suspension surrounding his expense claims, which ended in Duffy’s acquittal on 31 charges in April 2016.

He filed his claim last August, claiming “an unprecedented abuse of power” when senators voted to suspend him without pay in November 2013 before any criminal charges were filed.

The Canadian Press