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Legal aid for Clowes appeal

Jailed financier Peter Clowes, convicted of stealing pounds 16m from investors, has been given legal aid in his bid for freedom.

Taxpayers will foot the bill as he challenges the parole board's refusal earlier this month to grant him an early release.

Milton Firman, Clowes' solicitor, confirmed that he had secured legal aid for his client in an appeal to the Legal Aid Board in Manchester after he was initially refused.

"We appealed on the basis that Mr Clowes was at risk of being treated differently because of his notoriety," he said.

Clowes, 52, formerly of Prestbury, Cheshire, has served a third of his 10-year sentence for theft and fraud following the collapse of his Barlow Clowes empire in 1988.

He is serving his sentence in Sudbury open prison in Derbyshire. Papers have now been lodged with the Appeal Court.

His award could now pay for further representation in court by barrister Cherie Booth QC, wife of Labour leader Tony Blair.

She put his case in an unsuccessful parole board challenge last week.

Clowes is no stranger to legal aid. There was uproar when it emerged that defence costs came to pounds 1m in his 1992 trial.