EXCL Foreign Office labelled 'preposterous' for spending £6k on designer furniture
The Foreign Office spent almost £6,000 on a designer sideboard and side table “to advance British interests around the world”, PoliticsHome can reveal.
It said the furniture was bought from trendy London firm Julian Chichester to decorate an ambassador’s residence last year.
But the spending by the Government department, which was only revealed by a Freedom of Information request, was described as “preposterous” by a campaign group.
The FCO explained the transaction for £5,873.28, dated 20 March 2019, was used on a “Diego Cabinet” - which comes with doors covered in vellum, an animal skin which Acts of Parliament are printed on.
The Julian Chichester website says the item “plays with both form and a juxtaposition of materials with stunning results”.
The cash was also used to purchase a “Carlo” side table, described as an “eccentric and oversized curvy coated bronze side table with a chunky top”.
An FCO spokesperson said of the purchases: “We regularly use our Ambassadors’ residences to advance British interests around the world by hosting political and business leaders.
“When furnishing our residences, we always aim to secure the best possible value for the taxpayer and showcase world-class products made in the UK.”
But Duncan Simpson from the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "A side table ought to be a sideshow on the bill too.
"For the FCO to suggest that £6,000 on trendy furniture is advancing the British people's interests is preposterous.
"Of course ambassadors do important work, but the Foreign Office, like the rest of the public sector, must be made to understand that it's taxpayers' money they are splashing on shopping trips.
"The Foreign Office should be keeping costs as low as practically possible, not splashing the cash and covering themselves by claiming diplomats can only work in luxury.”