Taxpayers footed a legal bill of almost £2 million connected to Edinburgh City Council’s defence of the tram construction project according to reports.

The Scotsman reports that following moves from the Scottish Information Commissioner, Edinburgh City Council has released the total cost of the defence linked to the inquiry.

The figures reveal that the council spent a staggering £1,978,871 on external legal advice and costs at the tram inquiry’s hearings.

Costs include the hiring of the late Roy Martin QC to represent the council.

While £2m was budgeted was agreed for the inquiry at a city council meeting in 2015, it is thought that the legal bill represents the council’s external legal costs, with the inquiry thought to have cost the taxpayers around £12m.

As well as the external legal advice, the paper also reports that the council has spent an additional bill of £500,000 connected to the project. 

They also spent £315,456 spent on external legal advice connected to the tram extension to Newhaven.

Following a number of delays, the tram project was concluded with a cost of £776m - more than double the originally estimated cost of £375m.

READ MORE: £4m funding boost for Edinburgh Trams and Glasgow Subway branded 'disappointing'

Speaking to The Scotsman Liberal Democrat Holyrood candidate for Edinburgh Western, Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “These costs are through the roof. After almost a year of pressure, they have been forced to reveal the true legal bill and it is eye-watering.

"This inquiry will have made a lot of lawyers very happy, but the taxpayers of Edinburgh less so.

"Worst of all, we still don't have an inquiry report and no idea of when recommendations will be published"

Scottish Labour Holyrood candidate Sarah Boyack called the final total “shocking”.

She told The Scotsman: “While Edinburgh’s Tram has improved public transport choices for people, the results of the Edinburgh tram inquiry is long overdue. People need to know why the cost for the project went from £375m to almost £1 billion and its completion was years late.

READ MORE: Edinburgh's tram extension could be derailed by working from home

“It’s shocking that the council spent almost £2m on legal advice related to the inquiry. We need to know why.”

Conservative group chairman, councillor Jason Rust added: “Residents will be astonished at the huge costs which have been racked up. It is even more frustrating given there remains no sight of the inquiry report.

"It feels that taxpayers are paying twice for this debacle, both in terms of the original project and now through this never-ending inquiry, which has lasted longer than the delayed construction.

"At a time of hugely constrained council budgets, it is incredible that millions are having to spent in this way, especially as lessons learned from the original project would have been of greater worth the sooner they were reported."

A council spokesperson said: “An inquiry of this nature and duration inevitably requires a significant level of legal representation, and this will be the case for all participants in the Edinburgh tram Inquiry.

"This potential costs and related authority was, indeed, acknowledged in a report to council in the early stages of the inquiry and elected members have been kept updated since.”