Edinburgh’s secret legal bill of almost £5.5 million has seen the public purse pay to defend cases such as the baby ashes scandal and the child abuse inquiry, it can be revealed.
In total, £5,478,126 was spent by Edinburgh City Council in relation to seeking external legal advice on a range of issues over the past five years, with the majority of the cost coming straight from the public purse.
Legal advice from expensive external lawyers – a common requirement for councils when defending themselves or pursuing companies or individuals in court – has been sought by the council on several high-profile issues, including the Mortonhall baby ashes inquiry and the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry.
Reacting to the total cost, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton said the council must be “prudent with taxpayers’ cash”.
The Edinburgh Western candidate said: “Everyone knows that the tram inquiry had lawyers rubbing their hands with glee, but these figures show that there have been a number of occasions in which the legal bills have added up too.
“There will obviously be occasions when it is appropriate for the council to seek specialist external counsel, but it doesn’t display a lot of faith in the local authorities’ own legal department if so often they have to receive outside advice.”