Saturday, May 12, 2007

Et Tu, Sir John?

Oh dear.

I've always had a soft spot for Sir John Bourn (above), the Comptroller and Auditor General. I realise he's a career civil servant, but he's always struck me as being one of the old-style good ones- an archetypal dry old stick. And sitting in meetings of the Public Accounts Committee, I've often times admired the cut of his jib as he and his team at the National Audit Office relentlessly track down and expose government waste. He really did look like he was on the side of us taxpayers.

So I'm genuinely shocked and saddened to hear that he may be just like all the rest. Because a Private Eye FOI has uncovered a dirty secret:

"The man who ensures that public money is spent properly faced uncomfortable questions after racking up an eye-watering £336,000 expenses bill for a string of trips around the world.

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, has travelled to over 43 countries in the last three years - including exotic destinations such as Mauritius and Bahamas - at the taxpayers' expense.
His wife Lady Bourn has accompanied him on 22 of the stays at a cost of £76,000 in travel expenses.

The couple have enjoyed numerous stays in luxury five star hotels around the world. The jet-setting couple also travel first class on all long haul flights and business class on shorter visits."

Clearly we should have no problem with his travelling in the course of duty, but why on earth should Lady B accompany him? Tyler used to travel frequently on business, but the most Mrs T ever got was a single overnight in an appalling hotel room in Bournemouth, and that only after entertaining clients until after midnight (since you ask, she used to have a fire-eating act). As for first class air travel, that was never on the agenda except as a freebie upgrade. No complaints- that's the way real businesses operate.

Yes, I'm sure Sir J has fallen victim to some dirty tricks tip-off to Private Eye- probably from one of the various wastemongers he's currently investigating.
But what a sad SAD disappointment.

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