Former PM Liz Truss refuses to pay £12,000 in Cabinet Office bill row
Liz Truss refuses to pay £12,000 in missing bathrobes row: Former PM demands ‘accurate invoice’ after being ordered to settle Cabinet Office bill for ‘lost items’ and wining and dining at grace and favour Chevening estate
- Former Prime Minister sent bill for last summer when preparing administration
- Towelling robes and slippers are said to have disappeared from Chevening
- The Cabinet Office bill also includes food and wine she and her aides consumed
Liz Truss was last night at the centre of an extraordinary row after the Government demanded she pay more than £12,000 following the disappearance of items including bathrobes and slippers from her grace-and-favour country home.
The former Prime Minister was sent the bill by the Cabinet Office to cover the period last summer when she was using the Chevening estate to prepare for her short-lived administration.
A source said officials have told Ms Truss she needs to pay for items which went missing during her tenure at the home – and for food and wine she and her aides consumed there – as the costs were incurred for party political reasons rather than on state business.
But last night, a spokesman for Ms Truss told The Mail on Sunday she was contesting the bill and had requested ‘an accurate invoice’ before she agreed to settle it.
Ms Truss was still Foreign Secretary when she gathered with close aides at the 17th Century house in August, but felt that she was far enough ahead of Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership contest to start planning for victory.
Liz Truss is at the centre of an extraordinary row after the Government demanded she pay more than £12,000 following the disappearance of items including bathrobes and slippers from her grace-and-favour country home
Chevening, a 115-room house set in 3,500 acres near Sevenoaks in Kent, was left to the nation in 1967 by the 7th Earl Stanhope and since 1981 has usually been placed at the disposal of the Foreign Secretary
Chevening, a 115-room house set in 3,500 acres near Sevenoaks in Kent, was left to the nation in 1967 by the 7th Earl Stanhope and since 1981 has usually been placed at the disposal of the Foreign Secretary.
After winning the Tory leadership race in September, Ms Truss lasted just 45 days in office after the tax-cutting mini-Budget presented by her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, sent the markets into freefall.
A source said: ‘Liz used Chevening as a mini No 10, holding meetings with her inner circle which often turned into parties in the evening.
The Cabinet Office was told by staff at the house that items such as towelling robes and even slippers vanished during that period, and have asked her to cover the cost.
‘They have also objected to the idea that the taxpayer should foot the bill for what were basically a series of summer parties, and say she owes more than £12,000 for it.’
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The Ministerial Code states that if a Minister hosts party or political events in grace-and-favour residences, then it should be at their own or their party’s expense.
In December, The Guardian reported that traces of a suspected Class-A drug were found at Chevening after the parties – which Ms Truss has said is ‘categorically untrue’.
The newspaper said members of staff twice found traces of white powder in a games room, after nights where Ms Truss was known to have entertained guests. The workers claimed they tested the powder with a swab which changes colour when it comes into contact with cocaine, and got a positive result.
Since leaving Downing Street in October as the shortest-serving Prime Minister in history, Ms Truss has given speeches – charging up to £65,000 a time – and written articles pushing her tax-cutting agenda.
She blamed her downfall on a ‘concerted effort by international actors to challenge our plan for growth’.
She plans to stand again for MP in South West Norfolk at the next Election, while friends suggest she still harbours hope of a full political comeback.
Her spokesman said: ‘Liz always paid for the costs of her personal guests at Chevening.
‘The latest invoice contains a mixture of costs for her personally and costs for official Government business with civil servants including [Cabinet Secretary] Simon Case and senior officials from other departments who met at Chevening during the transition preparations.
‘The latter constitutes the majority of the bill. It would be inappropriate for her to pay the costs for officials as it would have breached the Civil Service Code for civil servants to accept hospitality during the leadership campaign.
She has therefore asked for this to be billed separately.’
Another source added: ‘This invoice for August 2022 was only sent to Liz by Chevening earlier this month.
‘She has requested an accurate invoice and will settle that once received.’
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