The BBC has spent £392,896.05 in legal fees to external lawyers to deal with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests since 2005.

The corporation has released details of its expenditure since the act was implemented in response to an FOI request logged through the WhatDoTheyKnow website.

Since 2005 the corporation has spent £379,586.50 on external barristers' fees - £13,309.55 of the total expenditure is listed as "other".

Costs relating to Freedom of Information requests may be incurred when organisations seek general legal advice or a decision to turn down an FOI request is appealed to the Information Commissioner or the process is taken further to an Information Tribunal.

The biggest spend, according to the figures released, was £270,867.12 as part of an appeal against a refused FOI request to the BBC to release the Balen Report, an inquiry into alleged bias in the BBC's coverage of the Middle East. The case went to the High Court in 2007 and the expenditure was well reported on at the time.

"In terms of internal legal advice, we do not hold the information you have requested as our in-house lawyers do not record their time in a manner that would allow us to identify how much time was spent on individual requests for information. We are therefore unable to calculate any internal costs," says a response from the BBC's information policy and compliance department.

The expenditure, which is detailed the PDF document at this link, relates to cases where complaints were both upheld and not upheld by the Information Commissioners Office.

Other spending includes £1,100 on FOI requests relating to litigation, £6,769 on requests and appeals asking the BBC to release details of its highest paid entertainers in 2007.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).