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Updated: Fri, 19 Jul 2013 08:22:50 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Staffer who may have known about Duffy cheque leaves PMO



Staffer who may have known about Duffy cheque leaves PMO

One of the few people in the Prime Minister's Office who allegedly knew about the $90,000 cheque Nigel Wright wrote for Senator Mike Duffy has left his job.

Chris Woodcock is no longer listed as an employee of the PMO, according to an electronic directory of government employees that was updated some time between Wednesday and Thursday.

- Who's who in the Senate expense controversy

Woodcock had been director of issues management in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office and he is now working as Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver's chief of staff. Woodcock's name recently appeared in court documents filed by the RCMP as part of an investigation into Duffy's Senate expense claims and the cheque that Wright wrote to cover some of the inappropriate claims.

"We don't comment on staffing," Julie Vaux, one of Harper's press secretaries said in an email to CBC News. Wright resigned from his post as Harper's chief of staff a few days after it became public that he cut a cheque for Duffy, who had committed to repaying his housing and travel allowances.

Harper says he did not know about the cheque and thought Duffy was paying the money back himself.

The court documents indicate that Wright's lawyers told the RCMP that Wright informed three other people in the PMO about his intention to write the $90,000 cheque: Woodcock, Benjamin Perrin, Harper's former legal advisor, and David van Hemmen, an assistant to Wright.

Senator Irving Gerstein, who oversees the Conservative party's fund, also knew according to the court document.

Perrin has also left the PMO in recent months. He has denied being involved in the decision for Wright to cover Duffy's expenses. The RCMP believes Duffy may have committed fraud on the government and breach of trust.

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