UK Liberty

Head of NAO to retire

Posted in accountability by ukliberty on October 25, 2007

The BBC reports that the Comptroller and Auditor General of the National Audit Office, Sir John Bourn, is to retire, although he will continue in his role (NAO press release) as Chair of the Professional Oversight Board of the Financial Reporting Council.

This comes after growing criticism of his travel and restaurant expenses, and gifts from third parties, for instance:

175 lunches and dinners since 2004 with permanent secretaries, directors of big accounting companies and defence contractors at the Ritz, Savoy, Dorchester, Brown’s Hotel, the Goring Hotel, Cipriani, Bibendum, Wiltons, Mirabelle and The Square. The bills, nearly all for two people, vary from £80 to £301. Many of the bills came to between £150 and £220. One bill for four people – two from the NAO – at Wiltons was £500. In the past six months, he has spent £1,651.56 on meals.

Much of it paid by us taxpayers.

As Wat Tyler of BOM wrote (my emphasis in bold),

To those of us intent on the prosecution of government waste, all of this is simply unacceptable. It isn’t just a question of public morality- although God knows, that’s important enough. It’s also the plain fact that to have credibility- to do his job properly- the Auditor General has to be above suspicion.

I hope his replacement lives up to that.

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