Via Tim Worstall, the Telegraph reports that NICE, the body that decides which drugs the NHS will provide, is insisting that it shouldn't be made to pay costs having lost a legal case to keep the details of how it reaches its decisions secret:
"Mr Dillon added: "Nice has been ordered to pay 60 per cent of the court cost incurred by Eisai who embarked on the litigation.
"Eisai Ltd is an international company which generated a net income of 598 million dollars (£367 million) in 2006/07. Nice is a public body funded by the taxpayer and defended this litigation in the interests of the NHS.
"Nice trusts that Eisai will now waive its costs so that the NHS funds that Nice receives can be spent on improving patient care."
Of course, the money does come from taxpayers' pockets. It will be a shame that legal bills fighting the case will have to be paid by ordinary families. However, the idea that this is the fault of Eisai, a company that brought an apparently legitimate legal claim, rather than the bureaucrats at NICE themselves, is a little absurd.
There have been countless cases, the attempt by Michael Martin to fight the release of MPs expenses under Freedom of Information law being a classic example, of politicians and bureaucrats using taxpayers' money to fight legal cases on dubious ground. The responsibility for this waste of money lies with the authority which used it to back a legal loser, not the company that made a, quite proper, claim. Too often public sector organisations abuse their access to taxpayers' money, often fighting for causes that aren't in the public interest in the first place.