Lord Chancellor attacks legal aid fat cats

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The Lord Chancellor last night launched a new attack on high-earning lawyers who grew rich on legal aid payments.

Lord Irvine of Lairg said that last year, 35 barristers received between pounds 270,000 and pounds 575,000 in legal aid fees for criminal work.

Another 20 received between pounds 203,000 and pounds 411,000 for civil work on top of any income they derived from privately-paying clients.

Speaking in a House of Lords debate, he said that the level of fees being charged to the public purse was too high and he pledged to bring it to an end.

He compared their earnings with those of a High Court judge, who received pounds 112,011, and hospital consultants who earned between pounds 56,000 and pounds 70,000 a year.

"Judges and hospital consultants have highly responsible jobs. The lives of many people depend on their professionalism ... yet almost 1,000 barristers all earned more from legal aid last year than hospital consultants are paid," he said.