Welsh Assembly pays out £6.7m for legal advice

The Welsh Assembly Government has spent more than £6.7m getting legal advice from external lawyers - even though it has a fully staffed legal division of its own employing 84 people.

Opposition parties strongly criticised the expenditure, which amounts to £110 for every hour since the Assembly was set up in 1999. The huge cost of the advice, covering a wide range of issues, was revealed following a request by the Western Mail under the Freedom of Information Act.

Welsh Conservative finance spokesman and Assembly group leader Nick Bourne said, 'This is an extraordinary amount of money. Rhodri Morgan's administration seems hell-bent on lining the pockets of lawyers with taxpayers' money. It speaks volumes for the Assembly Government's confidence in their own highly competent legal team if they have spent so much on external advice.'

Last month the Western Mail revealed how more than £3,000 was spent seeking legal advice about whether a Christmas card picture showing Culture Minister Alun Pugh with the board game Scrabble would infringe copyright law, even though the manufacturers of Scrabble had given permission for the photograph to be used.

Assembly pays out for legal advice (icwales.co.uk, 18 November 2006)