Extradition: Legal bill for Pinochet is pounds 12,000 a day

Lawyers' fees of up to pounds 3,000 a day are being paid by former dict ator, who is also paying Crown's costs
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GENERAL AUGUSTO Pinochet is running up legal expenses of up to pounds 12,000 a day in his fight against extradition, according to details of his lawyers' bills obtained by The Independent.

Senior counsel are understood to have averaged as much as pounds 3,000 per day, whilejunior members of his five-strong team of barristers are billing averages of up to pounds 900 for daily "preparation" sessions. Add an estimated daily rate of pounds 4,500 for solicitors and the resultant fees are expected to top pounds 1m before Christmas.

After the House of Lords overturned a High Court ruling that General Pinochet could not be extradited to Spain to answer charges of torture and murder, an earlier order giving him costs from central funds was overturned. That means the former dictator must pay not only his own costs, but also those of the Crown Prosecution Service, which represents the Spanish in legal proceedings.

Costs for the three-day High Court hearing alone were put at about pounds 400,000.

The Independent has obtained details of the bills already being faced by the Pinochet camp. He is represented in court by two Queens Counsel, Clive Nicholls and Clare Montgomery, and three junior counsel, Helen Malcolm, James Cameron and Julian Knowles. All but Mr Cameron are from 3 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn, central London, which specialises in extradition cases.

An examination of billing reveals Ms Montgomery has been averaging 6.6 hours a day on the case, at a rate of pounds 350 per hour - or pounds 2,306 per day. Between 29 October and 11 November, she billed pounds 53,054.05. Sources within the inns of court said yesterday the leading counsel, Clive Nicholls, would receive up to pounds 500 an hour.

The junior counsel is by no means cheap. Helen Malcolm averaged 5.99 hours per day at pounds 150 per hour during a 28-day period, running up fees of pounds 25,162.50. Counsel's instructing solicitors are Kingsley Napley, among the country's most ruthlessly successful. Between three and four solicitors, led by Michael Caplan, senior partner, are working on the case. Mr Caplan's fees are put conservatively at pounds 250 per hour. Fees for the others are thought to range from pounds 200 to pounds 150 per hour. Bills of pounds 7,500 from the barristers and pounds 4,500 from the solicitors could be expected.

The Crown Prosecution Service was represented by four barristers during the Lords hearing. A spokeswoman said yesterday that a team of four is working full-time on the case but she could not provide details of the costs being incurred.

General Pinochet yesterday settled into a new temporary home on the exclusive Wentworth Estate in Surrey. Anastasia Cliffe was astonished to discover her family's former home is now refuge for an alleged mass murderer.

"When we were there we had trouble with people coming to see the Bee Gees, but never, ever anything like this," she said. "The house is not particularly luxurious by Wentworth standards but it is very private and secluded."

General Pinochet moved to the house in Virginia Water after being asked to leave the private hospital where he had been staying after a back operation. The rental for the house, Everglades in Lindale Close, is said to be pounds 10,000 a month. The tree-lined residential area now has road blocks.

A group of businessmen in Chile is raising funds for General Pinochet's defence. An official at the Pinochet Found-ation said the general was not wealthy, and needed the help.

Carlos Carceres, the president of the Chilean subsidiary of British American Tobacco is said to be a leading contributor, and the general is also receiving the support of Miguel Schweitzer, a Chilean ambassador to London during the military regime, and businessman Hernan Felipe Errazuiz.

In London, many of the Pinochet support party have past or present links with Baroness Thatcher.

They are said to include Nico Rogerson, Robin Birley, Taki Theodoracopulos and Sebastian Santa Cruz.