The Bloody Sunday inquiry held its final evidence session this week as it was revealed the bill for the tribunal’s legal fees had reached £67 million.
Fees for barristers and solicitors now make up more than half the £127 million cost of Lord Saville’s inquiry, whose total cost is expected to exceed £155 million.
The bill will renew the doubts over Tony Blair’s decision to order an inquiry into the deaths of 14 civilians on 30 January, 1972 after soldiers from the Parachute Regiment opened fire when a civil rights march through Derry ended in a riot.
The total cost of the inquiry at Derry’s Guildhall was originally estimated at £10 million. By contrast the Hutton Inquiry is understood to have cost less than £2 million.
Since the inquiry started in March 2000 two barristers have earned more than £3 million each, while even some of the junior counsel have earned more than £1 million.
Madden & Finucane, the legal firm representing the families of the majority of those killed and injured, has been paid over £6.5 million and London-based solicitors Eversheds, which took witness statements for the inquiry, has received £12.6 million.
Christopher Clarke, QC, lead counsel for the inquiry, has received the highest amount for an individual – £3,721,971 – up to January. Edwin Glasgow, QC, representing soldiers, has received £3,333,954.
The details were revealed by Northern Ireland Office minister John Spellar in a written answer to the Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell.
Mr Campbell said the amount of money paid to lawyers was “bordering on the obscene”.
“Given the lack of resources in Northern Ireland for education, health and transport, this is a scandal which must never be repeated,” he said.
Other individuals to have earned more than a million from the inquiry include Alan Roxburgh, QC, for the inquiry – £1,518,831; Gerard Alias, QC, representing soldiers – £1,454,476; Allan Green, QC, representing soldiers – £1,280,323; and Cathryn McGahey, QC, representing the inquiry – £1,078,130.
Two junior counsel representing soldiers also topped the million mark – David Bradly on £1,066,560, and Nicholas Griffin on £1,043,690.