How a fortune in public money was blown on expenses and luxuries

Dog beds, race days, a Harley Street G-spot clinic and £25,000 on flowers… how a fortune in public money was blown on expenses and luxuries

  • Daily Mail investigation uncovered some astonishing mandarin expenses claims 
  • Included almost £4,500 of public money used for a trip to Silverstone Races
  • More than £6,000 spent at Harley Street clinic specialising in designer vaginas
  • Home Office spent £70 in one year calling the speaking clock telephone service 

Among the expenses uncovered by the Mail investigation were thousands of pounds from the public purse thrown around with seeming abandon. 

Here are six jaw-dropping examples:

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Civil servants earmarked almost £4,500 of public money to enjoy a day out at the racing track in Northamptonshire.

It is unknown if the money was to have gone on a hospitality package, a driving experience or a day watching Formula One. 

F1 hospitality has a range of options, the most exclusive of which is The Paddock Club experience. This overlooks the pit lane, providing views of the start and finish lines plus pit stops.

Civil servants earmarked almost £4,500 of public money to enjoy a day out at the racing track in Northamptonshire. Pictured: Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone in 2008

It is unknown if the money was to have gone on a hospitality package, a driving experience or a day watching Formula One. Pictured: Catherine Zeta-Jones at Silverstone last year

Combined with entertainment, gourmet food and wine, and appearances by drivers, the package is £690 per person.

The £4,428 spend was logged on March 9 this year by FCDO Services, an arm of the Foreign Office, and categorised as ‘bands or orchestras or entertainment’.

A source suggested the spending was on a team-building event for apprentices. But it was postponed due to coronavirus and officials said they had paid a deposit of £2,583 which would be refunded.

A SENSITIVE APPROACH

More than £6,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent at a Harley Street clinic specialising in designer vaginas.

Cosmebeauté, also known as Harley Street Specialists, offers ‘gynaecological aesthetics’ procedures including G-spot amplification and labiaplasty.

It also provides other treatments including Botox, fillers, blood plasma facials and hair transplants.

Love Island contestant Laura Anderson had a buttock lift in March at the clinic as a promotional advertisement.

Two payments of £3,186, totalling £6,372 to Cosmebeauté, were logged on the procurement card of FCDO Services, part of the Foreign Office.

A source suggested there was a highly sensitive programme related to national security which required staff to be tested for Covid – and this was the clinic selected for it. But it is unclear what the sensitivies were or why Cosmebeauté was chosen.

The transactions were logged in August, when there was extensive testing available. The FCDO declined to comment.

THAT’S PRICEY, PETAL

More than £25,000 was spent at florists by the Foreign Office.

The largest spends included £1,350.22 at Lily Lodge, a premium florist in Los Angeles which creates rose bouquets and intricate floral arrangements. Pictured: A bouquet from Lily Lodge Florist

The flowers, believed to be for embassies abroad, were purchased in countries including the US, Germany, Sweden, Cyprus, Israel and Anguilla.

The largest spends included £1,350.22 at Lily Lodge, a premium florist in Los Angeles which creates rose bouquets and intricate floral arrangements. 

The total floristry spend of £25,831.38 was logged on the procurement card website in the first three months of the year. The Foreign Office declined to comment.

SPLURGE TIME AT THE ZOO

Bristol Zoo was hired by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for £2,253.12. The spending covered venue hire, including a beer station, pre-ordered wine and a fork buffet menu for 30 people. 

The event on December 12 was to discuss the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), a treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats across the world.

Bristol Zoo was hired by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for £2,253.12, covering venue hire, including a beer station, pre-ordered wine and a fork buffet menu for 30 people. Pictured: Monkey at Bristol Zoo

It was held in the Garden Room, an airy location with a patio leading out into Bristol Zoo gardens within The Clifton Pavilion.

It is also used as a grand wedding reception venue.

A source said the event was the closing meal of the three-day 15th meeting of the standing committee of the AEWA, which the UK is currently chairing.

Defra declined to comment.

A BARKING BILL

Thousands of pounds were spent by Home Office staff on luxury, handmade dog beds favoured by TV presenters.

Officials shelled out £3,299 at Scottish brand Tuffies, which sells canine beds made from futon mattresses that ‘won’t go flat or lumpy’ from £117.

Celebrity fans include Countryfile presenter Adam Henson and Phil Spencer of Location, Location, Location. The items were bought for Border Force dog teams which need safe, good quality beds, according to insiders.

Thousands of pounds were spent by Home Office staff on luxury, handmade dog beds favoured by TV presenters. Pictured: Scottish dog bed brand Tuffies

The accessories boast materials including 1,000 denier nylon which ‘feels like a lovely upholstery fabric but is super strong and waterproof’. The single transaction was logged in January on the department’s procurement card.

DIAL W FOR WASTE

The Home Office spent £70 in one year calling the speaking clock. Despite the time being freely available on watches, smartphones and computers, Priti Patel’s department still paid 50p a minute to dial the speaking clock line to find out the time.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Departmental spending must be conducted in accordance with agreed policies, justified, and properly scrutinised.’

It is believed that only one department within the Home Office had a system allowing calls to the speaking clock and that the practice would now be blocked.

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