The first barrister to be paid more than £1m in one year from legal aid was named yesterday in a government report which showed that the top 12 lawyers in the field earn more than £600,000 from taxpayers.
Top of the list was James Sturman QC, who acted for Jose Mourinho in the Ashley Cole “tapping up” case. Mr Sturman, who was paid £1.18m – almost twice what he got the year before – does not have the background often associated with the bar. A non-Oxbridge graduate, he read law at Reading University.
Mr Sturman said yesterday that most of his income had come from cases which should not have been pursued, and blamed the prosecuting authorities for wasting taxpayers’ money.
Details of his earnings appear in lists of the 10 barristers who earned the most from criminal legal aid over the past three years, released by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. A separate list outlines the top 10 earners from civil legal aid for the same period.
Many of the top legal aid earners also have other income from private clients. Mr Sturman, for example, represents footballers involved in disciplinary cases.