Despite its policy of naming and shaming high-earning legal aid barristers, the Lord Chancellor's department (LCD) is refusing to reveal how much taxpayers' money it paid to Nigel Pleming QC, its counsel in the House of Lords inquiry into the fees of four top silks.
During the inquiry it was Pleming who exposed the details of fees claimed from legal aid by four barristers – Michael Mansfield QC, Peter Feinberg QC, Christopher Sallon QC and Richard Henriques QC – for appearances before the Lords.
It is understood that Pleming was paid for his advocacy, but when contacted, a spokesman for the LCD said: “We can't comment on a privately negotiated fee.”
By contrast, The Lawyer has learnt that Sydney Kentridge QC, the silk who acted for the Bar Council, and James Munby QC, who acted for the four named barristers, both acted on a pro bono basis.
Kentridge defended barristers' fees saying that attempts to peg fees to the earnings of, for example, surgeons “goes over the line of absurdity”.