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Towering fees

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Anyone interested in a free show should head on down to the Guildhall in the City of London, where the Heron Tower inquiry is rumbling on for the next fortnight. The extraordinary thing about the inquiry is the number of lawyers present, QCs, juniors et al. A rough calculation suggests £7,000 an hour in fees is being shelled out by clients including Heron, English Heritage, City Corporation, Westminster council and the Greater London Authority. CABE is parsimonious with public moneys, and makes do with the excellent solicitor Herbert Smith.

It can make for wearisome fare, and the inspector is exercising fair but firm control to prevent a legal Sargasso Sea. Incidental pleasures of the inquiry so far have been the resilient performance of KPF's Lee Polisano, under fire from EH counsel; ditto Anthony Blee appearing for Heron as an expert; ditto Robert Tavernor, author of an exemplary proof of evidence about the history of development in the City. Bad marks to Tony Tugnutt, a former employee of the City planning department, who is appearing in an individual capacity at the inquiry. Even the lawyers are fed up with him, though his rambling crossexamination of Polisano went on for nearly three hours, thereby adding plenty to their fee-meters.

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