MORE than £11,000 of taxpayer cash has been spent on wigs, wig boxes and gowns for legal staff in the past three years.
In spite of numerous calls for the old-fashioned dress code to be ditched, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) judges and staff still have to wear wigs and robes for many of their court appearances.
But in spite of pulling in publicly-funded salaries of up to £128,000 judges and staff are able to bill the public for their iconic white horsehair wigs, which can cost in the region of £500 each.
They can also bill the SCTS for £100 boxes in which to store their wigs, and their £160 robes.
But in addition to the large £11,000 figure, the SCTS spent a further staggering £240,000 to cover other uniform essentials for court officials in the past three years.
The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the SCTS.
Documents returned revealed that Scottish courts spent £6,317 last year alone on wigs, wig boxes and gowns for legal advisers and other staff appearing at the Court of Session and Glasgow’s High Court.
The figure is more than double the £2,441 spent the year before.
They also show that £121,077 was spent in 2015 to cover other costs of staff uniform.
The Supreme Courts spent the most out of this figure – at £30,752.
Some of the nation’s most prominent legal staff have spoken out in the past – claiming the use of robes and wigs is antiquated.
As of 2014 judges sitting in the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh no longer wear robes and wigs when hearing civil cases.
Speaking in April of that year Lord Brian Gill – the Lord President of the court at the time – said that doing without them “makes sense in this day and age”.
But judges still wear their formal attire – which dates back to the 14th century – when they are considering criminal cases.
Paul McLaughlin – project manager for justice charity the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation said such costs are “disgraceful”.
He went on: “It’s bizarre beyond belief, but not surprising. It’s flabbergasting that some people can’t afford to pay to be defended but they [the courts] would spend money on appearance.
“It’s not acceptable that money is being spent on something so archaic.”
Eben Wilson – director of Taxpayer Scotland – added: While judges are rightfully given some anonymity and authority through their robes, it is perhaps time that the rest of the legal profession cut back radically on their traditions and gave taxpayers who pay their very high fees a break.”
A spokesman for the SCTS said: “The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service only purchases replacement wigs and gowns for members of the judiciary.
“Certain staff and SCTS legal advisers are specifically required by court convention to wear gowns and wigs in court.”