Report reveals Donald Findlay QC as top legal aid earner

Donald Findlay Image copyright PA
Image caption Donald Findlay saw his legal aid earnings rise by 11% last year

Scotland's legal aid bill cost taxpayers £137.8m in 2015-16, figures have revealed.

The bill represents a slight drop on 2014-15, when £138.6m was spent on legal assistance.

Donald Findlay QC tops the list for payments in the Scottish Legal Aid Board's annual report, earning £288,000 - an increase of £30,000 on last year.

Advocate Anthony Lenehan, who saw his payments rise 15% to £278,000, takes second place on the list.

In third place was Mhairi Richards QC, who saw her legal aid earnings rise by 63% to £274,000.

Of the total amount, £84.3m was spent on criminal legal assistance and £42.4m on civil cases.

The remainder went on children's legal aid (£5.1m) and grant-funded projects (£5.4m).

Legal aid top earners 2015-16
Rank Advocate Earnings
1 Donald Findlay QC £288,000
2 Anthony Lenehan £278,000
3 Mhairi Richards QC £274,000
4 Brian McConnachie QC £256,000
5 Gordon Jackson QC £251,000

Source: Scottish Legal Aid Board

Colin Lancaster, chief executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board (Slab), said: "Slab has a strong track record of effectively administering the legal aid system and delivering an increasing range of priorities for Scottish ministers.

"Good performance in 2015-16 has been evidenced through the delivery of a range of key activities set out in this annual report and accounts, along with the full achievement of our current suite of key performance indicators.

"Through our effective consideration of legal aid applications and accounts, we have delivered our key function of managing the legal aid system."

As well as managing the legal aid fund and deciding whether to grant applications, the board is responsible for advising ministers on the operation of legal aid.

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