Nigel Wright, we are told, is a very intelligent and righteous man. He has put a lot of effort into establishing his reputation as such. But Donald Bayne, Mike Duffy's lawyer, has been shredding that reputation. Alan Freeman writes:
Nigel Wright cuts a curious figure. Ramrod-straight, athletically slim, he’s a quiet presence in the witness box — calm, never raising his voice, even when clearly irritated by Bayne’s persistent questioning. He seems thoughtful, even cerebral, as he recalls his actions in the winter of 2013 as the Duffy scandal exploded in the PMO.
Yet Wright’s actions at the time clearly demonstrate that he was single-minded — even ruthless — in doing the boss’s bidding and shutting the scandal down, using any means at his disposal.
Government resources, Conservative party funds, his own bank account — they were all interchangeable to Wright, all tools to to be used in carrying out Stephen Harper’s wish to see the Duffy problem disappear.
“I didn’t think that this was a distinction that was that significant,” Wright responded, when asked whether he saw any difference between Duffy paying back the money himself — the story the public initially was told — and being secretly reimbursed through the Conservative Party Fund.
It is Wright's inability to make distinctions which is so deeply troubling. One gets the impression that his ambition overtook his conscience. It's an old story. From Christopher Marlowe through Goethe down to Stephen Vincent Benet, it's about a man selling his soul and knowing what he was doing.
Most of the time the story ends tragically -- though in Benet's story, Jabez Stone had a good lawyer to get him off the hook. The irony is that Nigel Wright is supposed to be a very good lawyer. In the end, that may count for nothing.