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Statistics chief says legal aid claims don't add up

By Melissa Lesh

20 March 2014 at 10:19 BST

The Ministry of Justice stands accused of over-hyping barristers' annual earnings to justify legal aid cuts.

There are fears these may not be the last of the fee rises Claudio Divizia

In a strongly-worded letter to the Ministry of Justice, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Andrew Dilnot, claimed the department ignored lower fee estimates in their calculations when estimating that barristers earned an average £84,000 per year.  In light of Sir Andrew’s findings, the Ministry of Justice is being forced to submit itself to a statutory assessment.  Sir Andrew said while the figures published in January claimed to tell the mean fee income, they excluded barristers making less than £10000 and included the VAT as well as travel expenses.   

A right to expect more

Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan said: ‘This embarrassing slap-down shows that when ministers attempt to use figures to support their flimsy arguments and policies, they can’t be trusted.’  Upon hearing of the planned statutory assessment, Nigel Lithman QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: "Our cries went unheard, until now. But it seems the concerns are taken up by UK Statistical Authority who begin to take the MOJ to task for potentially misleading us. This is an outrage and frankly the public and the profession have a right to expect more from a Ministry of Justice." Source: The Times


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