Need to know: The damage - Quentin Fottrell examines the price of justice

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The cost of a criminal trial is related to the gravity of the offence, the number of lawyers involved and, most crucially, the weight of documentation required. "Ban the photocopier," says one lawyer. "The length of cases is due to the volume of paper generated." The paper chase, of course, can lead to a team of lawyers, who receive a large slice of the money spent. The Lord Chancellor's Department and Inland Revenue, however, have recently introduced "live-time computer transcription" at a fraud trial at Suffolk Crown Court, which is instantly accessible by all legal players. So far, the introduction of IT is saving the court a day a week. But, aside from being worried about whether justice will be served to the likes of Fred and Rosemary West, the public is most concerned about the cost to the taxpayer. The Legal Aid tally has escalated over the past 10 years. It was pounds 44.5 million in 1987 to 1988, compared with pounds 133.6 million last year.

Crown court running costs per day Building, pounds 2,450; judiciary, jury and staff expenses, assuming that there is a single defendant with Legal Aid, pounds 3,450; prison service, pounds 800; probation services, pounds 300; police, pounds 350

Legal expenses Private defence team per day, depending on the calibre and number of lawyers, three-person estimate, pounds 6,000; Lord Chancellor Department's average prosecution costs per day, including witnesses, pounds 1,450; judge's monthly salary, about pounds 7,500

Presenting a DNA case in court Depends on the amount of hair and blood samples involved. About $30,000 (pounds 17,860) was spent on DNA analysis and presentation for the OJ Simpson trial. Including overhead and laboratory space, UK estimate per day, pounds 1,550

Extras Transatlantic first-class ticket to avoid paparazzi should there be a high-profile acquittal (but better to hold out for last-minute upgrade), pounds 2,731; family travel expenses, pounds 400 each; housing rental per month if defendant is on bail and from out of town, pounds 500; festive dance in aid of defence (Louise Woodward's fund held a Valentine's Day dance) including fruit punch, streamers, town hall rental and banners, pounds 400

Total expenditure for a four-week criminal trial: pounds 338,931

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