Legal experts predict the Maxwell trial could cost the taxpayer up to £25 million, placing it among one of the most expensive cases to come to court.
It has taken nearly three years from the arrest of Kevin and Ian Maxwell following a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Maxwell media empire to reach court 22 of Chichester Rents, specially designed for long and complex trials.
According to the most recently published figures, the SFO spent £8.95 million up to the end of January. Its initial investigation lasted nearly seven months, involving more than 50 lawyers, accountants and police officers.
On top of that is the so far unpublished cost of the City of London police force, whose officers were seconded to the SFO.
The defendants – Kevin Maxwell, Ian Maxwell, Larry Trachtenberg, and Robert Bunn – are on legal aid.
A Commons written answer said £4.7 million had been paid to their lawyers.
If the trial lasts the anticipated six months, the costs of both prosecution and defence will run up bills of several million pounds.
Lawyers on all sides point to the huge amount of work involved. Background material stretches to more than three million pages of documents relating to the Maxwell group. There have been 60 days of preparatory hearings, while the SFO has lined up more than 60 witnesses for the trial.