A criminal prosecution involving pirated software left the UK taxpayer with the largest bill for legal aid in 2004-2005.
Operation Blossom cost £18.4m in defence legal fees, making it the most expensive criminal law case to reach a conclusion in 2005.
The prosecution's £750,000 legal expenses pushed the costs to more than £19m overall.
The defence included work from 15 barristers, three of whom earned £450,000 or more.
The fees helped James Sturman QC scoop £1.18m overall to become the first barrister ever to be paid more than £1m from legal aid in a single year. Sturman's client pleaded guilty to the charges and did not stand trial.
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