£3.2m Leveson Inquiry costs revealed

The Leveson Inquiry has so far cost taxpayers £3.2 million – and the total cost for part one of the investigation is expected to reach £5.6 million, the Government had admitted.

The public inquiry, looking into the ethics and practices of the media, was set up by the Prime Minister in July 2011 and the first part is expected to report later this year.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who himself faced questions at the inquiry and calls for his resignation following evidence, revealed the figures in a written Parliamentary answer.

Hunt said: "The cost of the Leveson Inquiry to the public purse to date is about £3.2 million, which represents payments made.

"The total cost for part one of the Leveson Inquiry from start-up in July 2011 is currently projected to be about £5.6 million."

Steve Baker, Tory MP for Wycombe, questioned Mr Hunt on the cost of the inquiry.

Lord Justice Leveson has himself raised question marks over whether part two of the inquiry, due to look specifically at issues of unlawful or improper activity at the News of the World and other media organisations after court proceedings have finished, should ever go ahead.

Speaking last month, he said: "The public concern which led to the setting up of this inquiry is beyond argument or debate.

"I do not know whether there will be prosecutions but, having regard to the number of arrests and the quantity of material seized – including the 300 million e-mails which it is said have had to be analysed – if there are, it is likely that the process of pre-trial disclosure and trial will be lengthy, so that part two of this inquiry will be delayed for very many months if not longer.

"In those circumstances, it seems to me that it is in everyone's interests that part one goes as far as it possibly can.

"If the transparent way in which the inquiry has been conducted, the report and the response by Government and the press – along with a new acceptable regulatory regime – addresses the public concern, at the conclusion of any trial or trials, consideration can be given by everyone to the value to be gained from a further inquiry into part two.

"That inquiry will involve yet more enormous cost, both to the public purse and the participants.

"It will trawl over material then more years out of date and is likely to take longer than the present inquiry, which has not over-focused on individual conduct.

"Obviously, the more restrictive in its analysis that part one has been, the greater will be the legitimate public demand for part two."

The Leveson Inquiry website hosts information about the costs of the inquiry.

The most recent entry, for expenditure to the end of January 2012, revealed spending of £536,100 on counsel to the inquiry, and £682,100 on the inquiry's secretariat.

Costs for the hearing room, annexe and office accommodation had run to £121,200.

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