The scandal-hit inquiry into child abuse has already cost taxpayers more than £1.2 million – before it has questioned a single witness.
In the year since it was set up by David Cameron to examine claims of VIP paedophile rings and Establishment cover-ups, the inquiry has been mired in controversy.
The first two chairmen were forced to quit and an expert panel was scrapped amid infighting. There have been no public hearings, only a handful of meetings have been held with victims, and officials have only just got around to warning Whitehall not to destroy incriminating evidence.
But as Justice Lowell Goddard, the New Zealand judge drafted in to get a grip on the troubled investigation, prepares to officially launch its work with a public statement this week, The Mail on Sunday can reveal the staggering costs incurred in its first nine months – equivalent to almost £5,000 a day.
Among the costs is the £177,000 paid to a human-rights barrister who has effectively been running the inquiry behind the scenes.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said last night: ‘These are quite large figures for an inquiry launched a year ago which has not yet taken any formal evidence. The committee will monitor developments and progress and has every confidence in Judge Goddard’s ability to progress matters.