Jim Sturman QC, who also works for Chelsea Football Club, was paid £1,180,000 in criminal legal aid in 2004-05. He heads a list of 12 barristers who were paid a total of £8,934,000 by the Criminal Defence Service last year.
Mr Sturman was counsel to the family of Harold Shipman during the doctor's inquest when he was paid privately. Mr Sturman has been building a practice in football disciplinary law. Last year he was appointed as Chelsea's standing counsel for disciplinary and Football Association (FA) matters by the club's owner, the Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich.
He has also been involved in the prosecution for the FA of Manchester United and Arsenal players and defended Joe Cole during his time at West Ham.
Earlier in his career Mr Sturman, who was called to the Bar in 1982 and took silk in 2002, helped defend Colin Stagg, leading to the defendant's acquittal for the murder of Rachel Nickell.
Second on yesterday's high-earners list was Simon Bourne-Arton QC with £902,000. Also released were details of the 12 top-earning criminal defence barristers of the previous year, 2003-04, which was topped by Richard Ferguson QC with £864,000.
Mr Ferguson's long career has included defending the serial killer Rosemary West and the boxer Terry Marsh when he was acquitted of the attempted murder of the promoter Frank Warren.
The previous year's list included the Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC, who earned £597,000 before he was appointed as the country's top prosecutor.
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