Lawyers working on the Bloody Sunday inquiry have raked in more £98m in fees, the government has revealed.
A full breakdown of legal costs has been published that shows two lawyers have earned more than £4m each while two firms made £26m between them.
The parliamentary written answer also shows that more than 20 firms and individuals each submitted bills well in excess of £1m.
The Saville Inquiry is the longest and most expensive in British history with costs, including administration fees and expenses as well as legal bills, having reached £184.9m by October last year.
The current estimated final cost will be £190m, according to Secretary of State Shaun Woodward, meaning more than half of the total bill will have been swallowed up by lawyers’ fees.
Top earners were Christopher Clarke, lead counsel to the inquiry, who had made £4.48m by last December while Edwin Glasgow, representing soldiers, received £4.06m.
Their payments would be enough to cover the salaries of more than 300 general nurses for a year.
Three of Mr Clarke’s colleagues earned in excess of £2m from their work as counsel for the inquiry while the fees of three of the senior counsel representing the Army were above £1m.
Eversheds solicitors, London, which has dealt with witness statements received £13.2m, while Belfast-based Madden and Finucane solicitors, one of the firms representing families, was paid £12.9m.
The government listed around 70 lawyers and firms that have been involved in the inquiry although it was unable to confirm how many hours of work they had submitted bills for.
When former Prime Minister Tony Blair set out his plans for the inquiry in 1998 he said it was not possible to state how much time it would take adding it should be given as long as necessary to cover all of the available evidence.
The inquiry initially said it thought that could be done within about two years and at a cost of £11m but it has now been running for more than a decade with the publication of the final report recently delayed until autumn.
Officials point to the sheer volume of evidence — 2,500 witnesses gave statements, of whom 922 were called to give direct evidence — as well as 121 audio tapes and 110 video tapes for constantly revised timetable and costs.
But critics last night expressed outrage at what they branded a “waste of public money” insisting the final outcome would do little to heal the wounds of the past.
Owen Paterson, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who requested the figures in parliament, said: “To see in black and white the £190m cost of the inquiry broken down into individual payments to lawyers and legal firms really brings home the astonishing cost to the taxpayer of this inquiry.
“Saville has not heard any evidence since 2005; four years later it is still consuming millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
“The Labour Government which set up this inquiry must ensure that it is brought to a rapid conclusion.
“This must never happen again.”
Politicians’ outrage at ‘waste of money’
Senior politicians reacted with anger at the breakdown of the Saville legal bills, branding the staggering sums outrageous and disgraceful.
MPs and peers from across the political spectrum raised concerns about what the inquiry will ultimately achieve, claiming the only people who will really benefit are the lawyers.
Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP junior minister, said the money should have been spent supporting the victims rather than lawyers.
“Clearly I am very concerned that a huge proportion of the costs go on paying lawyers fees,” he said. “When all of this is said and done the main beneficiaries will be these lawyers, certainly not the people of Northern Ireland.
“I regret to say that this money has been wasted when it could have been spent better on supporting the victims. Compared to the paltry sums they have been given over the years it is an outrage.”
Lady Sylvia Hermon, UUP MP, said: “Whilst it is arguable an inquiry should have taken place, expenditure of public money must be proportionate. When jobs are being cut and banks bailed out, is spending nearly £200m justified? The answer is definitely no, it isn’t.”
Labour MP Stephen Pound, a member of the Northern Ireland Affairs committee, said: “Having recapitalised the banks it seems as if we are recapitalising the legal profession in Northern Ireland.
“I’m sure the pain of the past has been eased in the case of the barristers but I’m not sure if any material benefit has been achieved for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Ulster Unionist peer Lord Maginnis said: “It’s outrageous, a disgrace. I will learn nothing from the Saville Inquiry that I didn’t already know. It was a huge tragedy, a huge blunder, we all know that. We all know that there was aggravation. It makes a mockery of justice. This money has been squandered.”
Saville Inquiry legal payouts: who got what
Expenditure on legal representatives (counsel and solicitors’ firms) to the end of December 2008
Counsel for the inquiry
Christopher Clarke, £4,488,266
Jacob Grierson, £394,879
Alan Roxburgh, £2,978,989
Cathryn McGahey, £2,268,093
Bilal Rawat, £2,203,633
Solicitors employed for the taking of witness statements
Senior counsel representing |the families
Lord Gifford, £803,040
Arthur Harvey, £1,326,426
Michael Lavery, £678,191
Barry J. McDonald, £1,203,275
P. T. McDonald, £120,144
Michael Mansfield, £743,421
Eilish McDermott, £1,405,133
Seamus Treacy, £1,008,703
Eoin McGonigal, £134,556
Kevin Finegan, £551,815
Senior counsel representing NICRA
Sir Louis Blom Cooper, £587,746
Junior counsel representing the families
John Coyle, £812,614
Fiona Doherty, £641,326
Ciaran Harvey, £673,951
Richard Harvey, £679,869
Brian Kennedy, £661,153
Philip Magee, £83,175
Kieran Mallon, £823,196
Brian McCartney, £874,398
Karen Quinlivan, £571,548
Patricia Smyth, £360,927
Michael Topolski, £159,915
Mary McHugh, £424,524
Junior counsel representing NICRA
Paddy O'Hanlon, £442,732
Solicitors representing the families
Barr and Co., £696,319
Brendan Kearney and Co., £953,451
Desmond Doherty and Co., £1,449,837
MacDermott & McGurk, £1,503,840
Madden & Finucane, £12,968,409
McCann & McCann, £707,652
McCartney & Casey, £1,483,283
Solicitor representing NICRA
Francis Keenan, £594,328
Legal representatives for other witnesses
Various solicitors and counsel, £3,173,210
Payments made by the MoD for legal representation to the end of December 2008
Senior counsel representing armed forces
Edwin Glasgow QC, £4,065,817
Edmund Lawson QC, £942,943
David Lloyd Jones QC, £1,095,966
Gerard Elias QC, £1,795,752
Peter Clarke QC, £958,853
Sir Allan Green QC, £1,522,441
Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC, £677,874
Sir Sydney Kentridge QC, £52,875
Anna Worrall QC, £100,457
Senior counsel representing MOD
Ian Burnett QC, £231,386
Philip Havers QC, £7,138
Junior counsel representing armed forces
Alexander Milne, £409,121
Bridget Petherbridge, £126,197
Huw Davies, £361,638
Ian Leist, £965,146
Michael Hick, £253,895
Gaby Bonham-Carter, £277,393
Pamela Morrison, £131,378
Kristian Mills, £56,929
Nicholas Moss, £991,892
Sam Grodzinski, £1,877
Stephen Requena, £88,161
Alan May, £299,009
Andrew Hurst, £590,803
David Bradly, £1,291,966
Michael Bools, £990,071
Nicholas Griffin, £1,195,062
Thomas Quinton, £426,072
Junior counsel representing MOD