The Post Office has spent nearly £24m over the last year on external legal advice for disclosure, as the inquiry is held up with failures.
According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) by the Law Society Gazette, from 1 January 2022 to 31 July 2023, the Post Office had nine lawyers advising it on assisting the inquiry, costing £24.4m.
This comes as the inquiry was postponed during July as it was discovered the Post Office failed to disclose evidence, including 95 documents related to a witness.
The inquiry chair Sir Wyn Williams called an urgent disclosure hearing in July to address what he called “grossly unsatisfactory” disclosure failings. He called on several people including the the former inquiry director and current inquiry director Diane Wills as well as KPMG partner Paul Tombleson and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partner Gregg Rowan.
The Post Office had lawyers from HSF and Peters and Peters instructed as advisers, but HSF was dropped in June for Burges Salmon and Fieldfisher.
The inquiry is still suffering from delays as this month it had to be postponed again due to delays on key evidence for witnesses.
Since July, the inquiry has been on phase four, which looks at the action against sub-postmasters, with phase five due to commence in early 2024.
The Post Office was contacted for comment.