THE total cost of Douglas East by-election fraud trial is still not known.
Treasury Minister Eddie Teare revealed in the House of Keys that appeals against conviction had been lodged – and the final cost was therefore likely to be significantly above the amount to date which stands at £873,985.
Replying to a question from Howard Quayle (Middle) about the cost to public funds of the criminal case, Mr Teare said there were ‘lessons to be learned, especially from this case’ about the costs of legal aid.
He said: ‘The costs to public funds are still to be finalised. Although the trial before the Court of General Gaol Delivery has been completed, I am advised that appeals against conviction have been lodged which will incur additional costs.’
Mr Teare said that although a number of bills have been received in connection with defendants who were on legal aid, and interim payments had been made, these bills will be subject to detailed assessment that will take some time to complete - and it was also likely that some other bills are still to be received.
But he revealed the costs in legal aid are currently identified as £245,714.
Mr Teare said the bill for Manx advocates to date was £251,110 while the costs to the Attorney General’s chambers are £302,417 which includes £297,767 for engaging English counsel. The cost to the police is £11,747 and other costs of hiring lawyers from the UK are £208,008 so far. Other costs relating to jurors, courts and coroners total £92,141 while disbursements for legal representation total £8,562.
As chairman of the legal aid committee, he said he had been ‘appalled’ at the size of the legal aid bill. ‘We will be looking at the whole structure as costs are getting out of control’.
Charles Buster Lewin, campaign manager for unsuccessful candidate Kevin Woodford in the 2010 by election, was jailed in December for three and a half years after admitting charges of conspiring dishonestly to secure proxy votes. Two co-defendants were given suspended sentences.