Fees attacks weaken aid: Goldsmith

John Malpas reports

BAR Council chair Peter Goldsmith has defended the fees paid out to the silks involved in the Barlow Clowes fraud trial.

Details of the fees were released by the Lord Chancellor's Department just days before the publication of the Green Paper on legal aid reform.

Complaining of "unwarranted and misleading" attacks on a tiny minority of legal aid cases, he warns of a hidden agenda to weaken the legal aid system fundamentally.

Goldsmith says Anthony Hacking QC, who defended financier Peter Clowes in the 112-day trial, received the equivalent of around £50 an hour gross rate – "substantially less than many of the other professionals working for defence and prosecution in the case".

He adds that QCs in serious fraud cases "are very few in number, working at the top of their profession on matters of the greatest complexity".

The trial cost £6.5 million in legal aid with £1 million paid out to four QCs acting for the defendants.