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Political Parties: Finance

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2010

To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 26 October 2009, Official Report, column 6W, on political parties: finance, from which (a) legal firms, (b) Queen’s counsel and (c) other sources the Electoral Commission sought advice in connection with its investigation into Mr. Michael Brown and Fifth Avenue Partners; how much was paid for such advice in each case; and what the total cost was to the Electoral Commission of the investigation. (323601)

The Electoral Commission informs me that, in addition to legal advice from its in-house legal counsel, it also obtained legal advice from Queen’s counsel, Michael Beloff QC; and from junior barristers, Jane Collier, Tom Hickman and Michael Nield. Payments to Queen’s counsel amounted to £33,625 and payments to junior counsel amounted to £26,650.

The Electoral Commission further informs me that it does not record the precise direct and indirect costs associated with any particular case but, now that the investigation is closed, can estimate that the staff and incidental costs incurred, including the above legal costs, amounted to approximately £170,000.