Barrister fees for Diana inquest set to top £5m

Total cost of case to exceed £10m as Al fayed’s silks bill £575 an hour

Barrister fees for the core team of counsel on the Diana inquest will reach almost £5m, with the total cost of the case set to top £10m.

The £10m figure for counsel fees is a conservative estimate that includes last year’s judicial review and the barrister costs of the £3.7m Stevens Inquiry – the police probe into the deaths of the Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed in August 1997.

“There are also the fees for other barristers outside of the main group on the actual Diana inquest acting for witnesses like paparazzi agent Darren Lyons,” an insider told The Lawyer. “That would add a significant cost too.”

Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed is set to spend more than £3m on barrister fees for the inquest alone. He will not only pay for his own lawyers, led by Michael Mansfield QC of Tooks Chambers, but barristers representing his Paris hotel The Ritz, led by Ian Croxford QC of Wilberforce Chambers. Both silks command an hourly rate of £575.

If the inquest, which started on 2 October 2007, finishes as expected at the end April, Mansfield and Croxford will each take home more than £675,000 for the 32-week period.

A source involved in the inquest said the parties had taken the unusual step of not agreeing a brief fee. “Everything about the inquest has been uncertain – when it would commence and even how long it would take – so it was felt an hourly rate was the most sensible option.”

For the Government, the lead counsel to the coroner, Ian Burnett QC of 1 Temple Gardens, is expected to take home more than £335,000 based on his hourly rate of £285.

Richard Horwell QC of Cloth Fair Chambers, leading for the Metropolitan Police, and Robin Tam QC of 1 Temple Gardens, for MI6 and the Foreign Office, each command £250 an hour and will receive around £294,000.

Fee totals have been calculated based on the silks working seven hours a day during the inquest and 50 hours a week for two months in preparation, as suggested by inquest sources.