Government official blew more than £6,000 in a day on luxury chocolate

Government official blew more than £6,000 in a day on luxury chocolate on taxpayer-funded credit card at department in charge of Freedom of Information

  • Payment was made on a single day and saw £6,248.40 spent at Hotel Chocolat 
  • The unnamed official used a corporate credit card to buy the luxury chocolate 
  • Card belonged to the Information Commissioner’s Office, in charge of FOI 

A government official spent more than £6,000 on luxury chocolate in one day using a taxpayer-funded credit card.

In total, the unnamed official spent £6,248.40 at Hotel Chocolat on December 21 last year. 

The chocolate was bought on a credit card belonging to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the body in charge of upholding the Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act. 

The payment was the largest single transaction made on an ICO corporate credit card in the last months.

Incredibly, it came to light when the body published its credit card expenses of more than £500.

The unnamed official blew £6,248.40 on luxury chocolate from Hotel Chocolat on a single day

Incredibly, it came to light when the government department published its credit card expenses of more than £500

The most expensive chocolate available on the Hotel Chocolat website is a 147-piece collection called The Signature Cabinet, which costs £170.

The payment could have covered 36 of these chocolates.  

The ICO has now launched an internal investigation over the transaction.   

ICO: Champions of freedom of information 

The Information Commissioner’s Officer is an independent, government-funded agency that is tasked with upholding information rights in the interest of the public.

The ICO reports directly to the Parliament of the United Kingdom and is sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 

As part of its role, it upholds several acts including the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts. 

The ICO received £4.6 million of funding from the government in the 2019-20.

It is also bankrolled by private organisation who pay it a ‘data protection fee’.     

An ICO spokesperson told Buisness Insider: ‘We believe that the transaction has been made contrary to ICO policies. The ICO is committed to upholding high standards in all aspects of our financial management and controls. 

‘Should a contravention of our finance policies be confirmed, we will take appropriate action, including ensuring the payment is reimbursed.’

The document also revealed how most of the department’s other payments were on training, flights and adverts.   

The ICO received £4.6 million of funding from the government in the 2019-20.

It is also bankrolled by private organisation who pay it a ‘data protection fee’.     

The ICO was previously in the headlines last August after its chief, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, was revealed to have been living 4,500 miles away in her native Canada during the pandemic. 

The £180,000 per year official, who is responsible for data transparency and privacy, wasn’t due to return to the UK until September, having lived in Canada since June. 

An FOI response did not reveal where in Canada she was living but confirmed she was in the Canadian Pacific Time Zone, which includes parts of the province of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, plus the whole of the Yukon. 

Her office insisted Miss Denham was working as normal, having lived in Canada since June. 

But industry experts called on the data watchdog to resign at the time. 

Denham was appointed UK information commissioner in 2016 after serving in a similar role in Canada.

And in the past four years she has made a mark on British politics and the way the internet is policed.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham previously hit the headlines after it revealed she was working from Canada – 4,500 miles away from her office

In 2018 the married mother-of-four blasted Facebook, saying Mark Zuckerberg’s behemoth had passed a ‘tipping point’ of unlawful behaviour and spoke of her ‘appetite’ for confrontation.

Appointed Information Commissioner in Britain in 2016, the history graduate has successfully lobbied for the maximum fine her office can impose to be raised from £500,000 to several million.

She made her mark by fining TalkTalk £400,000 for security failings and hit Facebook with a £500,000 bill for its role in the Cambridge Analytica saga.

She also moved against the Leave.EU campaign and its backers and in March fined Vote Leave £40,000 for sending unsolicited text messages.

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