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There has been no shortage of controversy surrounding the legal aid system. Critics say it beggars belief that taxpayers are funding the cases of convicted criminals, foreigners and fugitives – while others, such as distraught families, are denied help...

The speedboat killer 

Most recently, the Legal Aid Agency came under attack after it emerged that Jack Shepherd, 31 – who went on the run after killing his date on a speedboat trip – had been awarded more than £100,000 to mount his defence at trial.

He was then handed more from the public purse to appeal his conviction. Justice Secretary David Gauke pledged to investigate the loophole which allowed him to lodge the appeal while at large. Shepherd was finally jailed last week after being extradited from Georgia.

Jack Shepherd, 31 – who went on the run after killing his date on a speedboat trip

Jack Shepherd, 31 – who went on the run after killing his date on a speedboat trip

Meat Cleaver murderers

Pictured: Michael Adebolajo

Michael Adebolajo

Michael Adebolajo, 34, and Michael Adebowale, 28, murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby with meat cleavers in Woolwich, south-east London, in May 2013. The pair, who were jailed for life, received £200,000 in legal aid to fund their defences.

But Adebolajo appealed against the conviction. Again he lost, this time at a cost to the taxpayer of £50,000.

Notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary, who has received £140,000 in legal aid, supposedly inspired the two killers.

Pop star paedophile

Paedophile Gary Glitter was also given more than £21,000 in legal aid to fight child sex charges – despite being wealthy enough to rent a £2million London home and earning £300,000 a year in royalties.

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