Taxpayers foot the bill for Commons Speaker's legal advice

The Commons Speaker Michael Martin was criticised last night for spending £21,516 of taxpayers' money on lawyers. Mr Martin employed libel firm Carter-Ruck for three months following unflattering newspaper reports questioning his impartiality and conduct.

Another article claimed his wife Mary had been given special dispensation from the strict security checks that non-MPs must undergo to enter Parliament. Mr Martin is thought to be the first Commons Speaker to hire lawyers as spokesmen.

Yesterday, official figures showed the bill for Mr Martin's legal advice was accrued during June, July and August. The TaxPayers' Alliance campaign group accused him of adopting 'the airs and graces of the ancien regime'. Chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "By using our money to defend himself against his critics and to soothe his thin skin, he is showing contempt to taxpayers. "

It has also come to light that Mr Martin tried to stop details of MPs' £5million a year travel expenses from being revealed. The House of Commons Commission, which is chaired by Mr Martin and oversees Parliamentary business, spent £17,300 unsuccessfully trying to block the freedom of information request.

Commons Speaker spent £21,516 of taxpayers' money to 'challenge negative press' (, 14 October 2007)