Slaughters in fracas with Lib Dem peer

LORD Oakeshott, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, has become embroiled in a row with &ldquo;magic circle&rdquo; legal firm Slaughter and May after he accused it of handing the government a &ldquo;simply mind-blowing&rdquo; &pound;22m bill. <br /><br />The bill relates to &ldquo;financial stability&rdquo; work carried out for the Treasury in the the financial year 2008 to 2009.<br /><br />Slaughters partner Paul Olney yesterday said Oakeshott had issued &ldquo;wholly inaccurate and completely wrong&rdquo; figures, after the politician suggested the fees would be equivalent to 22,000 billable hours of partners&rsquo; time at &pound;1,000 per-hour.<br /><br />Olney pointed out that the fee included advice on the Northern Rock collapse and Bradford &amp; Bingley rescue as well as a range of Icelandic bank issues.<br /><br />He added that the firm also worked on the cash injections into RBS, Lloyds and HBOS, as well as on the government&rsquo;s asset protection scheme, among other financial stability matters.<br /><br />&ldquo;Each of these transactions were substantial and complex in their own right. They required a huge amount of work in a number of specialist areas,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Oakeshott said the Treasury should have &ldquo;driven a harder bargain, not left Slaughters like a fleet of legal taxis in Whitehall with their meters running for months on end&rdquo;.<br /><br />The Lib Dem spokesman, who worked as an economist before becoming a politician, also suggested the &pound;22m bill was equivalent to &pound;175,000 for each of the groups&rsquo; partners. <br /><br /><strong>FAST FACTS </strong> OAKESHOTT v SLAUGHTERS<br />&9679; Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, who trained as an economist at Oxford, is 62-years old<br /><br />&9679; London-based Slaughter and May, one of the elite &ldquo;magic circle&rdquo; legal giants, was founded 120 years ago and employs around 762 lawyers