MSPs are demanding answers over payments to Alex Salmond’s legal team following his civil court case against the Scottish Government.
Last month it emerged that £512,250 in legal costs have been paid to the former SNP leader’s lawyers after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the government’s handling of complaints against him was “unlawful”.
But experts told The Sunday Post that they believe taxpayers may have paid up to £100,000 too much – because the Scottish Government failed to get the costs fully audited.
Now the committee investigating how the probe was handled has written to the Scottish Government Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans seeking clarification over the payments.
A source close to the committee said: “There is concern that the fee wasn’t taxed in the way highlighted in the article.
“A letter from Leslie Evans to committee convener, Linda Fabiani, said the normal procedures were followed – so the committee have asked what the normal procedures are?
“The committee wants to be sure due diligence was done.”
The Scottish Government says it spent £118,523 on external legal fees taking its legal bill to £630,773. That, however, does not include the time and resources devoted to the case by civil service legal teams.
The Scottish Government did not get the costs “taxed”, an assessment carried out by the auditor of the Court of Session.
Last month costs lawyer Jim Diamond, Britain’s leading legal costs expert, told The Sunday Post that the government missed a clear opportunity to reduce costs and warned the true price paid by taxpayers will be far higher than the £630,000 admitted so far.
Mr Diamond said: “The Scottish Government could have saved possibly £100,000 via a forensic examination of the account by the auditor.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the permanent secretary has emphasised in her letter, we are committed to cooperating fully with the committee.”