JOHN Major has refused to identify the law firms which have shared more than £250,000 of advice work for ministers and civil servants in connection with the arms to Iraq Scott inquiry.
He said in answer to a Parliamentary question that the names of the lawyers and their clients were “confidential”.
City firm Allen & Overy is said to have been hired by William Waldegrave and Lord Howe, both former ministers at the Foreign Office, but has
refused to confirm or deny the report.
The Prime Minister told Labour MP Derek Fatchett last week that 67 ministers, ex-ministers and civil servants had run up a private legal bill of £256,000 in relation to the inquiry.
He added that advice given by the Treasury Solicitor's
department has so far cost £312,000. Other witnesses have taken private advice and paid for it themselves.
Fatchett says: “These escalating costs are payable out of public funds, but the Prime Minister argues that the identity of the individuals and the firms concerned is a private matter.
“The taxpayer is clearly meant to be the silent and unknowing partner in this arrangement.”
Fatchett says he finds the figures particularly disturbing because they only represent the costs which have been incurred in the inquiry so far.