Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) routinely increased the daily rates of the advisers, on top of expenses and bonus payments.
It can also be revealed that TIE’s outgoing chief executive, Richard Jeffrey, secured a 7% pay rise in a year that saw little or no progress being made to the line.
The trams project is in a state of crisis after a succession of blunders by TIE, the arms-length firm owned by Edinburgh City Council responsible for delivering the project.
The scheme that was supposed to deliver a service from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven for £545 million has been scaled back due to delays and cost-overruns.
A report to be debated this week by the council will claim that a shorter line to St Andrew Square will cost the taxpayer around £770m. Cancellation, according to the report, will come in at £750m.
Councillors will make a decision on the project’s future at a crunch vote on Thursday.
Although a large part of the disaster revolves around a dispute with German contractor Bilfinger Berger, part of the construction consortium, TIE’s wasteful spending has also come under the spotlight.
The Sunday Herald has previously disclosed that TIE had spent at least £24m on consultants to advise on aspects of the scheme.
TIE was also paying customer services and communications director Mandy Haeburn-Little a six-figure package that was on a par with the First Minister’s salary.
The body is likely to be stripped of control of the project, as Jeffrey and Haeburn-Little have quit, while half the body’s workforce may be made redundant.
Following an appeal to Scottish information commissioner, Kevin Dunion, the eye-watering daily fees paid to TIE’s external consultants can now be published.
Matthew Crosse, the former project director who reported to ex-chairman Willie Gallagher, started off on £1040 a day before his fee was increased to £1090. The cash was paid to Crosse’s firm, Strategic Lines Ltd, which netted £370,000, of which £30,550 was in bonuses.
One of Crosse’s key roles was working on negotiations for InfraCo, the contract that led to the acrimony between TIE and Bilfinger.
According to documents released by TIE, Graeme Bissett started as a consultant in 2003 on a daily rate of £1000. He worked for TIE in this capacity until 2006, at which point he became a member of staff.
In 2009, Bissett reverted to being a consultant, this time on £1200 a day. He was paid through his company, Realizzare Ltd, which during his second spell as an adviser received £117,400 in fees. He also received a bonus when he was a staff member.
He was not involved in the InfraCo negotiations.
Bissett is listed as a board member of the Scottish Futures Trust, a body set up to help public bodies save money on infrastructure costs.
In 2006, Andie Harper was appointed as TIE’s interim project director, after which he became a “director consultant” on an agreed rate of £1000 per day.
He reported to Crosse and was involved in the early procurement stages of the InfraCo deal.
Geoff Gilbert, who also worked under Crosse on InfraCo, signed a consultancy deal with TIE worth £795 a day in 2007. His firm, Geoff Gilbert Associates Ltd, received £230,000 in fees, which included a £23,500 bonus.
In the same year, TIE entered into a contract with RacReb Consulting Ltd, owned by Jim McEwan. He was given the title of business improvement director on a daily rate of £500, with bonus clauses worth £40,000.
Two subsequent agreements were reached with RacReb, which increased the daily fee to £700-a-day and then £800. The fees paid to McEwan’s firm totalled £405,000, including bonuses of £90,000.
McEwan worked on the utility side of the project, not InfraCo.
Following a separate appeal by the Sunday Herald to Dunion, TIE has also revealed fresh details of the salaries paid to its senior officials.
Earlier this year, TIE confirmed that six staff earned more than £100,000 a year, but it refused to give precise details of the packages.
Jeffrey argued at the time: “Revealing the salary details of these TIE staff … may have a damaging impact on salaries in their future employment.”
But since the appeal was lodged, TIE has released the exact salary of Jeffrey and one colleague.
Jeffrey was paid £150,000 in 2010-11, up from £140,192 in the previous year. The 7% rise came during a period when the project had stalled.
It has also been confirmed that Steven Bell, another TIE director, earned more than the outgoing chief executive. Bell took home £158,845 in 2009-10, a figure that increased marginally over the following 12 months.
Margo MacDonald, the Independent Lothians MSP, said: “These fees show why there must be a public inquiry into the trams project, a probe which has to look at the value for money provided by all these consultancy contracts. And the people who signed the key contracts have to be held to account.”
Colin Keir, the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Western, said: “At a time when everyone is being told to tighten their belts financially, this news will certainly leave a sour taste in mouth of the Scottish taxpayer.”
A spokesman for TIE said: “The rationale for the use of consultants was to provide essential expertise on complex issues relating to a large infrastructure project, which were otherwise unavailable in house.”