In its first three months, the Leveson inquiry, set up by the British Parliament to look into journalistic ethics in the wake of the News of the World telephone hacking scandal, has cost U.K. taxpayers $1.34 million, according to figures posted on the inquiry's website Wednesday. By far the lion's share of that amount -- $589,000 -- has been spent on the secretarial staff, while the committee's lawyers have received $337,000. The committee still has a long life ahead of it. Its inquiry has been organized into two phases, the first of which is due to file a report to Parliament by next September. Its statement on Wednesday indicated that many of the expenses reported relate to preliminary set-up fees and therefore the three-month total may not represent ongoing expenses. The inquiry has also indicated that it will pay the legal expenses of some witnesses, but it was not clear whether any such payments were included in the initial report.

22/12/2011