A former legal chief who feared bills of more than £600,000 after losing a tribunal against Northumbria Police must pay just £15,000.
Denise Aubrey's hearing led to a series of embarrassing allegations being aired about Northumbria Police, including details of alleged affairs between senior staff, claims of a fight at a barbecue and public money being spent on a cover-up.
She brought the claim in the summer of 2016 after she was sacked for gross misconduct following a 20-year career with the force where she was head of legal services.
Northumbria Police sought to recoup some of its legal costs and Ms Aubrey previously stated she feared having to pay more than £600,000 after she lost her case, and an appeal.
She said her own legal costs were less than £40,000.
Northumbria Police welcomed the judgment and said it will use the £15,000 on policing.
A spokesman said: "It would have been unconscionable for us not to seek reimbursement on behalf of our local communities and this much-needed money will now be reinvested back into policing.
"The decision by the judge allows us to move on and do what we do best - to protect the people of Northumbria and serve our local communities with pride."
The costs application was made before the tribunal panel during a hearing in Leeds last month.