Barry Hughes given £34,000 in legal aid

BOXING promoter Barry Hughes used Pounds £34,000 of taxpayers’ cash in a failed bid to fight off mortgage fraud charges.

Barry Hughes. Picture: Robert Perry

The millionaire was given legal aid after his assets were frozen following his arrest over the £1.2 million scam.

The 35-year-old is facing jail after he admitted lying to get his hands on “1,287,955 for two mortgages after claiming his wife Jacqueline’s business made at least £160,000 a year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, after he had an affair with former Miss Scotland Michelle Watson, Mrs Hughes, 37, lodged divorced papers saying she was “financially dependent” on Hughes.

Her not guilty pleas to involvement in the fraud were accepted.

Now figures from the Scottish Legal Aid Board(SLAB) show the couple’s legal team were given £33,844 to defend them.

And the legal bill is set to get even higher as final legal aid claims in the case have not yet been submitted.

Hughes is facing proceeds of crime proceedings in a bid to seize his fortune and could be forced to pay the money back.

The businessman was arrested in July, 2010, when police raided his luxury home in Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire.

However, he repeatedly had the case delayed and tried to have it thrown out.

He unsuccessfully claimed he could not get a fair trial because of publicity surrounding the case and signs erected by police outside his home during their raid which read: “Strathclyde Police - tackling serious and organised crime.”

Legal aid

The legal aid money was used to pay for his QC Gordon Jackson and preparation of the case by his solicitors.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court, dad-of-four Hughes admitted lying on mortgage applications about his wife’s income in January 2004 for one property in Bridge of Weir, and in November 2006 for another in Kilmacolm.

He also admitted two charges of money laundering for receiving £128,885 after selling the first property and spending Pounds 30,000 towards a Rolex watch.

Hughes will be sentenced next month.

In a separate proceeds of crime case against Russell Stirton and Alexander Anderson, it was revealed Hughes carried £15,000 of dirty money in a Sugar Puffs box as part of a money-laundering operation.

The court heard he bought £148,000 worth of Skoda cars on behalf of Stirton and Anderson, who died in 2012.

A spokesman for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said: “Legal aid was granted to Barry and Jacqueline Hughes in 2010 by the court which applied strict tests to assess whether they were financially eligible.

“Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, assets frozen or seized by the court cannot be used to fund legal proceedings.

“Depending on the outcome of the case, these may be used to pay the legal aid bill and offset costs to the taxpayer.”

A Crown Office spokesman confirmed proceeds of crime proceedings against Hughes were ongoing.