It's emerged a millionaire travelling family who were convicted for forcing vulnerable men to work for hardly any money in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Gloucestershire, received legal aid totalling nearly £500,000.
The Connors family were found guilty last December after a trial at Bristol Crown Court.
The Legal Services Commission paid out the money. It could claim it back if the Connors are proved to have assets of more than £30,000.
A Legal Services Commission spokesman said:
"We manage costs carefully and legal aid rates are considerably less than those paid to lawyers in privately funded cases.
"Trials can cost a lot of money if they last many weeks, are very complex and have thousands of pages of evidence.
"The law says that anyone facing a Crown Court trial for a serious criminal offence can apply for legal aid to ensure they have a lawyer, but funding is subject to a means test which could require them to pay towards their defence."