First head to roll from FOI in Whitehall

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, announced today that he will be stepping down from his post next year. He had been in the position for 20 years but came under fire for his extravagant use of taxpayer-funded expenses.

While the official word is that he is retiring to avoid any conflict with his post as chairman of the Professional Oversight Board, it is clear that pressure was mounting for him to leave after a steady stream of freedom of information requests laid bare his jet-setting lifestyle. From costly lunches at some of London’s best restaurants to first class air fare for him and his wife Lady Bourne, the Auditor General racked up £336,000 on 45 journeys in just a three-year period. Lady Bourn had gone with him on 24 of those occasions, which cost taxpayers £76,000.

Sir John Bourn’s recent trips

  Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
£8,593* San Francisco
£2,723 Kazakhstan
£2,217* Lisbon
£1,718* Venice
£1,290 Moldova
£455 Belfast

* accompanied by Lady Bourn
Source: National Audit Office

While the BBC and many newspapers reported on the final expenses disclosure, it was the tenacious Richard Brooks writing for Private Eye magazine who investigated the issue for months before the National Audit Office finally agreed to provide him with the information he sought.

* This is the first resignation in Whitehall to come as a result of FOIA disclosure. In Scotland, MSP David McLetchie resigned after FOI requests in 2005 revealed his detailed travel expense claims.

One Response to “First head to roll from FOI in Whitehall”

  1. Bourn’s trips look cheap when you compare them with David Cameron’s foreign travel.

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