Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission criticised by audit office

The government's independent spending watchdog has criticised the body that pays out millions of pounds in legal aid fees to lawyers, for not doing enough to prevent and detect fraud.

More than £400m has been paid out in legal aid fees in Northern Ireland during the past nine years.

The money is paid out by the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission, which was established in 2003.

An audit office report has criticised its performance.

The audit office said the commission's accounts have not been complete since it was formed nine years ago.

It said this was due to a lack of sufficient evidence on the level of fraud.

In a statement, the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission said it had a programme of work in hand aimed at addressing the issues as soon as possible.

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