Murray set to testify in Walsh fraud trial

Rob Antle
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Justice

Since the constituency allowancespending scandal broke three years ago, many descriptions have been applied to the name of Bill Murray. Today, a new one will be added: witness.

Murray is expected to be on the stand first thing this morning when testimony resumes in the corruption trial of former Liberal MHA and cabinet minister Jim Walsh.

Jim Walsh

Since the constituency allowancespending scandal broke three years ago, many descriptions have been applied to the name of Bill Murray. Today, a new one will be added: witness.

Murray is expected to be on the stand first thing this morning when testimony resumes in the corruption trial of former Liberal MHA and cabinet minister Jim Walsh.

Murray served as director of financial operations at the legislature until news of the spending scandal exploded like a political neutron bomb in 2006. He also faces charges in relation to the constituency allowance spending scandal.

On Monday, defence lawyer Vernon French continued to hammer at the lack of oversights over Murray when he was in charge of constituency allowance spending.

First up on the witness stand was former House of Assembly civil servant Mark Noseworthy.

Noseworthy was the official at the legislature who approved most constituency allowance claims in the government's computer payment system once Murray had verified and inputted them.

Noseworthy reiterated that he relied on Murray, and was shocked when his former boss was implicated in the spending scandal.

Noseworthy said there would have been "more checks and balances" had the legislature been properly staffed.

"If somebody wanted to do skulduggery ... you can get away with so much for so long before you're found out," Noseworthy told the court.

Next up was the legislature's clerk assistant, Elizabeth Murphy.

Murphy occasionally approved payments in the computerized financial system.

Murphy indicated to the court that she viewed the process largely as a "formality."

She acknowledged that, for a period of time, she did not see the actual supporting documents for the claims she was approving.

Walsh is on trial for fraud over $5,000, breach of trust by a public officer and frauds on government.

The charges related to excess claims totalling $159,316 from his taxpayer-funded constituency allowance between 1998 and 2004.

rantle@thetelegram.com

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  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    So Elizabeth Murphy thought that approving claims and looking at the supporting documents for those claims was a formality . Um, no Elizabeth - the queen inspecting the troops is a formality . That was part of your @$% job. I'm not aware of any jobs out there where approvals are just a formality. Maybe we can all get jobs as formal approvers ? What did you think you were getting paid for? Isn't it pathetic that these type of people are guardians of the public purse?

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    I can only get the sense that the entire House of Assembly bureaucratic staff from the Clerk, Assistant Clerk, Director of Administration and jumior staff never did give a hoot about the expenditure of public funds. Those who get along, move along - and we pay the bill.

    4 are facing crominalprosecution. The rest are just a public mockery.

    The fifedom of the House of Assembly and its archaic provisions and protections are just silly.

    Given the calibre of Debate in the House and the fact that the majority party always wins the votes, we need to ask What is the real purpose of the legislature? .

    Reading newspapers and sanctimonious hysterics are not to the public benefit.

    Hopefully, this scandal and the microscope the House is now under will make politicians realize who they serve.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    So Elizabeth Murphy thought that approving claims and looking at the supporting documents for those claims was a formality . Um, no Elizabeth - the queen inspecting the troops is a formality . That was part of your @$% job. I'm not aware of any jobs out there where approvals are just a formality. Maybe we can all get jobs as formal approvers ? What did you think you were getting paid for? Isn't it pathetic that these type of people are guardians of the public purse?

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    I can only get the sense that the entire House of Assembly bureaucratic staff from the Clerk, Assistant Clerk, Director of Administration and jumior staff never did give a hoot about the expenditure of public funds. Those who get along, move along - and we pay the bill.

    4 are facing crominalprosecution. The rest are just a public mockery.

    The fifedom of the House of Assembly and its archaic provisions and protections are just silly.

    Given the calibre of Debate in the House and the fact that the majority party always wins the votes, we need to ask What is the real purpose of the legislature? .

    Reading newspapers and sanctimonious hysterics are not to the public benefit.

    Hopefully, this scandal and the microscope the House is now under will make politicians realize who they serve.