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Taxpayers 'funded bonus cap fight'

Chancellor George Osborne has been accused by Labour of wasting tens of thousands of pounds in taxpayers' money in his unsuccessful legal battle to block a European Union cap on bankers' bonuses.

Shadow treasury minister Cathy Jamieson said figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that the Treasury spent £43,000 in external legal fees in the course of its action in the European Court of Justice.

Mr Osborne announced last month that he was dropping the Government's action, admitting that it was "unlikely to succeed" after an adviser to the court rejected the UK's legal arguments.

"While working families face a cost-of-living crisis, it is astounding George Osborne chose to waste taxpayers' money fighting a bank bonus cap," Ms Jamieson said.

"His decision revealed his true priorities and showed just how out of touch he is."

The Government had warned that the cap - which restricts bonuses to 100% of banker's pay or 200% with shareholder approval - would simply lead to banks putting up basic pay rates while driving talent out of Europe.

A Treasury spokesman said: "As we have already said, the Government incurred some costs for external legal advice as part of its legal challenge to the EU bonus cap. These figures have already been fully disclosed".

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