Council spends £100,000 on external lawyers

Merton council has spent nearly £100,000 of taxpayers' money on outside lawyers despite having 32 full-time legal staff. A total of £96,309 was spent paying solicitors' and barristers' chambers between April 1 and November 15 in 2006.

The South London Post obtained the council accounts under a Freedom of Information request.

Conservative leader, Councillor David Williams, claimed that some of the legal advice was very specialist: "The reality is that there are only a certain number of legally qualified staff in that department. By the nature of the council business they cannot be experts in all aspect of the law. We must defend ourselves and seek legal advice as the cost may be even more if we don't."

Anger at council's £100k lawyers' fees ( website, 20 December 2006)