involved in the phone hacking inquiry could earn up to
£200 an hour,
it has emerged
Lord Justice Leveson plans to report to government within a
year Photo: AP
The Leveson inquiry is
today expected to set a date for the start of oral hearings into the
phone hacking scandal at the News of the World and the broader
relationship between the media, police and politicians.
Lord Justice Leveson plans
to report to government within a year and has insisted he wants to keep
the costs of the inquiry down.
However, an inquiry
document published yesterday signalled that some barristers and lawyers
could be paid for out of public funds and at substantial hourly rates.
It placed a ceiling on
funding at £200 an hour for leading counsel, £100 an hour for junior
counsel, £150 for solicitors and even £75 an hour for trainee lawyers.
Although a timetable is
still to be set, the oral hearings are likely to run for several months,
meaning the inquiry is likely to cost tens of millions of pounds.
A taxpayers’ campaign group
warned against the inquiry turning into a money pit for legal teams.
But one legal expert said
the rates were substantially lower than average costs in inquiries and
that Lord Justice Leveson should be praised for his attempts to keep
Inquiries have long been
criticised for running up huge costs and delays, usually at public
expense. The Bloody Sunday inquiry in to the deaths of 14 civilians
during a civil rights march in Londonderry in January 1972 lasted 12
years and cost almost £200 million.
Robert Oxley, campaigns
manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said of the Leveson inquiry: “With
an issue that affects the foundation of democracy, there has to be a
proper investigation in to the allegations.
“But it is important the
investigation represents value for taxpayers’ money and that the result
is to restore faith in the organisations and not to bolster the pockets
of well-paid lawyers.”
As well as the phone
hacking scandal, the year–long inquiry will look at the issue of press
practices and ethics and its relationship with the public, police and
Newspaper groups, the
Metropolitan Police and politicians and personalities, including Hugh
Grant, Sienna Miller, JK Rowling, are to be represented. The parents of
Madeleine McCann and Milly Dowler will also play a role.
The inquiry protocol on
public funding makes clear that large organisations and the wealthy will
almost certainly not be eligible and will have to pay for their own
Mark Stephens, of Finers
Stephens Innocent, who has worked on previous inquiries, including
Bloody Sunday, said the hourly rates were a fraction of usual fees. He
said a barrister in an inquiry could command £1,000 an hour, while a
solicitor could earn £300 an hour. He said Lord Justice Leveson had to
be commended for preventing lawyers treating the inquiry as a “money