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Liz Truss spent more than £15,000 of taxpayer money on catering during Australia flight

Former prime minister Liz Truss spent more than £15,000 on in-flight catering on a single flight to Australia while she was foreign secretary.

As revealed in a freedom of information response to the Labour Party, British taxpayers paid more than £1,400 per head for 12 government officials on a single trip to Australia.

Catering for the Australia flights in January 2022 cost £15,639 in total, which was 3.4 per cent of the total £454,626.59 cost of the tickets, Politico reported.

The government said the sums also include wider logistics of running a private aeroplane, such as catering equipment, as well as food and drink.

Former prime minister Liz Truss spent more than £15,000 on in-flight catering on a single flight to Australia while she was foreign secretary (PA Wire)
Former prime minister Liz Truss spent more than £15,000 on in-flight catering on a single flight to Australia while she was foreign secretary (PA Wire)

A spokesperson for Ms Truss told The Independent: “Liz had many responsibilities as foreign secretary, but it ought to be self-evident that organising the in-flight catering on overseas trips was not among them.”

Catering for Ms Truss’ South East Asia trip in November 2021 totalled £12,742, which was 4.2 per cent of the overall £300,545.39 flight cost. Another visit to Indonesia in the summer of 2022 cost £5,604 in in-flight catering, which was £431 per head and 1.5 per cent of the total £369,000 cost.

Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry said the figures showed ministers were “determined to have their hugely expensive cake and eat it”.

She added politicians were “booking planes which are for them and them alone, ignoring the burden on the taxpayer, and indifferent to the cost of living crisis facing the rest of the country”.

The Mail on Sunday reported last year that Ms Truss was contesting a £12,000 government bill relating to her use of the grace-and-favour country house at the Chevening estate that she had access to as foreign secretary.

Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry said the figures showed that ministers were ‘determined to have their hugely expensive cake and eat it’ (PA Archive)
Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry said the figures showed that ministers were ‘determined to have their hugely expensive cake and eat it’ (PA Archive)

Leaked correspondence, revealed by The Sunday Times, disclosed that Ms Truss in 2022 had requested taxpayers’ cash for a £3,000 lunch at a private club owned by a Tory donor, overruling her officials’ advice to go somewhere more suitable.

The freedom of information data released on Thursday also showed the in-flight catering bill for Ms Truss’ predecessor Dominic Raab came to £6,215 during a trip to Indonesia and Brunei in April 2021, and £7,625 for a visit to Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia in June of that year.

Meanwhile, catering for flights to Japan, South Korea and Singapore made by Ms Truss’ successor James Cleverly amounted to £14,900 — almost 4 per cent of the overall £384,160 flight cost.

A government spokesperson said: “The figures shown represent the end-to-end cost of providing in-flight catering, including transport, on-boarding/off-boarding, preparation, disposal in line with adherence to international waste management regulations, and the required equipment for these processes. These logistical elements make up most of the cost and are charged by the vendor regardless of the specific items ordered or consumed.

“Catering in-flight is a monopoly for the vendor and these costs would also be accrued on scheduled commercial flights. However, they are contained within the wider ‘all-inclusive’ booking fee and not broken down separately.

“Therefore the figures shown should not be conflated as actual expenditure on food or drink. The substantive costs will relate to the transfer of associated catering equipment, in the same way for example that a proportion of the cost of a commercial flight will include charges for the transport of hold luggage (whether itemised or inclusive).”

They added the flight costs are in line with past precedent for all political parties.

Ms Thornberry claimed private flights had become “the default option for ministers to do their overseas travel”, adding: “If they are determined to ignore the ministerial code by opting for government planes when commercial flights are available, the least they should be doing is taking along media or business delegations to help subsidize the cost.”