Cherie Booth QC earned £210,000 from BCCI case

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The Independent Online

Cherie Booth QC has been paid more than £236,000 in public money for her work as a barrister since Labour came to power in 1997.

The figures, released under a Freedom of Information request, show that she also received £210,000 in legal fees for representing the staff of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) between 1997 and 1999.

Ms Booth has been accused of cashing in on her privileged position as the spouse of a Labour prime minister. She has also faced accusations that she has directly benefited from the introduction of the Human Rights Act, brought in by Labour, shortly after she helped to found a set of chambers specialising in such work.

But her average annual earnings from legal aid amount to less than £30,000 a year, a modest sum compared with the top-earning publicly paid barristers in the country.

Jim Sturman QC was paid £1,180,000 in criminal legal aid in 2004-05. He headed a list of 12 barristers who were paid a total of £8,934,000 by the Criminal Defence Service last year.

Ms Booth's earnings from the BCCI case have been met by the bank under the terms of a negotiated settlement so that there was no cost to the taxpayer.

Earlier this year Ms Booth came under fire after it emerged that a charity fundraising dinner she spoke at in Melbourne, Australia, was being investigated because a children's cancer charity received less than 10 per cent of the proceeds.

In June, she earned a reported £30,000 for a lecture in Washington that coincided with the Prime Minister's meeting with President George Bush. It was billed as a "conversation with the wife of Tony Blair'' in which she talked about her triple life as a mother, lawyer and prime ministerial consort.