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Prime minister says he didn't know about Duffy cheque

LIMA, Peru (NEWS1130) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he did not know about the personal cheque given to Sen. Mike Duffy by his own chief of staff.

Speaking in Peru, Harper says he wasn’t asked to sign off on the arrangement that saw Nigel Wright cut a cheque for $90,000 to Duffy.

Harper also says he would not have allowed Wright, who has since resigned, to give the money to Duffy had he known about it.

It’s the first time Harper himself has directly answered questions about the Senate expenses scandal since news of the payment surfaced last week.

The payment allowed Duffy to stop co-operating with an external audit of his expenses. That audit has since been referred back to a Senate committee for review.

Duffy says he’s pleased that his expenses will again be reviewed by that same Senate committee because he’s confident they will find that his actions “do not merit criticism.”

Wright resigned Sunday, and Duffy quit the Conservative caucus last Thursday, after the details of their transaction began to emerge.

The arrangement between the two is also under investigation by the federal ethics commissioner.