The cost of public inquiries

4 November 2016
What was claimed

The Chilcot Inquiry cost £13 million and the Leveson Inquiry cost £5 million.

Our verdict


“People keep citing the cost of Chilcot at £13 million and Leveson at £5 million”

David Dimbleby, 3 November 2016

Both figures are correct. The Iraq Inquiry, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, spent just over £13 million over the eight years it was in action. The Leveson Inquiry into press culture and standards, back in 2011 and 2012, came in at about £5.4 million over roughly a year.

Costs aren’t seen as a bad thing by everyone. One audience member responded to these figures by saying “what price justice?”.

Staff costs are the biggest expense in inquiries like these. Almost two thirds of the £13 million in Chilcot went on people: mainly on staff doing secretarial work and on paying the committee leading the Inquiry. Similarly, over two-thirds of the Leveson costs went on staff and lawyers.

The cost of public inquiries varies a lot. By far the most expensive in recent years was the Bloody Sunday Inquiry from 1998 to 2010, which cost £192 million. Nearly £100 million of that went on legal representation. As the Chair of that Inquiry said afterwards: “lawyers are expensive; very expensive”.

Most inquiries don’t cost anywhere near that but several have gone some way over the £13 million spent on Chilcot. A few years ago the government published a list of inquiry costs since 1998, so it’s easy to compare them.

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