Hacking trial may be costliest in British history at an estimated £100 million

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 11:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 1:30am

The eight-month phone-hacking trial is arguably the most expensive in British legal history, according to its presiding judge, with the combined costs nearing £100 million (HK$1.36 billion).

Rebekah Brooks' legal fees, estimated at more than £5 million, will be partly paid with the £16.1 million severance she secured after resigning as chief executive of News International.

Police and Crown Prosecution Service bills for the Old Bailey trial total are estimated to be at least £33 million. News Corp's legal fees covering five of the seven defendants including Brooks and Andy Coulson have been projected to be more than £60 million.

The trial involved 22 barristers, about 40 solicitors from six law firms, three full-time court staff and more than 60 witnesses.

"We have probably the most expensive case in the country," Mr Justice John Saunders said in March.

The legal bills eclipse those of the notorious Jubilee Line fraud trial, which collapsed in 2005 after 21 months at a cost of £60 million.

Brooks will be able to apply to the court for some of her expenses. She can claim for costs associated with hacking and perversion of the course of justice charges, but not the two counts related to paying public officials.

These charges were made after changes to legal aid law, which clawed back the amount privately defended clients can demand from the crown.

Her lead counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, and his team were paid about £30,000 a week, amounting to more than £1 million in fees for court time alone over the 33-week trial.

The largest cost was the £32.7 million incurred by Scotland Yard for the four investigations resulting from phone hacking at the News of the World.

By contrast, the court fees of the only defence team on legal aid came to £3,250 a week.

David Spens QC, counsel for the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman, was on £2,000 a week, while his junior was on £1,250 a week.

The lead prosecution barrister, Andrew Edis QC, was on the relatively modest sum of £570 a day for court appearances.

The Guardian