Hushed up, the taxpayer's £350,000 legal aid bill for arson couple who killed six of their own children in fire at their home 

  • Mick and Mairead Philpott given £350k of taxpayer money for legal team
  • MoJ was forced to publish figure following a Freedom of Information battle
  • The Philpotts were jailed with friend Paul Mosley in 2013 for manslaughter

Child killers Mick and Mairead Philpott were given more than £350,000 of taxpayer money to fund a legal team that included four barristers, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The astonishing legal aid figure is being published for the first time today only because the Ministry of Justice, which tried to cover up the amount on data-protection grounds, was forced to publish it following a Freedom of Information battle with this newspaper.

The Philpotts, from Derby, were jailed along with their friend Paul Mosley in 2013 for manslaughter after starting a fire that killed six of their children. 

Killers: Mick and Mairead Philpott were given more than £350,000 of taxpayer money to fund a legal team

Killers: Mick and Mairead Philpott were given more than £350,000 of taxpayer money to fund a legal team

An artist's impression of Mick Philpott in the witness box in 2013

An artist's impression of Mick Philpott in the witness box in 2013

The couple had previously staged a tearful press conference appealing for help to find the children’s killers. They had also gained notoriety for relying on the welfare system to fund their lifestyle.

Last night, Ann Widdecombe, the former Minister who met Mick Philpott in 2007 for a documentary about the benefits culture, criticised the high sums paid in legal aid to the couple. 

‘The fact is it was at the Old Bailey and it was a very expensive trial,’ she said. ‘But even taking all of that into account, it does seem to me a large sum of money. It says a lot about what barristers charge.’

A Freedom of Information request for the total cost of legal aid for the Philpotts was submitted to the MoJ on October 2 last year.

The Legal Aid Agency, a branch of the MoJ, initially refused to release the figure on the grounds it was personal information and would breach the Data Protection Act. But the MoS forced disclosure after complaining to the Information Commissioner.

The newspaper argued there was a legitimate interest in transparency over the amount of public money spent on defending two child killers who repeatedly lied to police.

The ICO gave the MoJ 35 days to disclose the information, which revealed that the total cost of funding in the case was £353,182.

Mairead’s lead barrister, Shaun Smith QC, was paid £57,531.74, while her junior barrister was paid £25,739.73. Michael Philpott’s lead barrister, Anthony Orchard QC, was paid £56,823.84, while his junior was paid £27,305.21.

In addition, two solicitors were paid £94,321 and £86,681 respectively from taxpayer funds for their work on the case and Mairead’s barrister Mr Smith also received £3,396 to appeal against her 17-year sentence, which was rejected.

The Legal Aid Agency said: ‘Legal aid means people on trial can have a lawyer to defend them. But if they are found guilty, we do all we can to get the money back.’

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