Government accused of 'grotesque waste of taxpayers' money' after Stansted flight

Liz Truss boarding RAF Voyager at Stansted Airport

Liz Truss boarding RAF Voyager at Stansted Airport - the government's other private jet run by the RAF - Credit: PA/Stefan Rousseau

A government minister has received criticism for using a private jet to fly between London Stansted and Sydney, Australia.

Foreign Secretary and South-West Norfolk MP Liz Truss' trip between Essex and New South Wales is rumoured to have cost taxpayers £500,000.

An MP has said that the trip was a "grotesque" waste of taxpayers' money, but the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) insists that the trip was fully within the rules.

Ms Truss left Stansted Airport at noon on January 18.

Flight XT645 touched down at Sydney shortly after midnight on January 20.

She travelled within Australia using the Airbus A321 jet and, on her return, arrived at Stansted from Adelaide at 1.20pm on January 23.

According to The Independent's aviation industry source, Ms Truss' trip would have cost "at least £500k".

A ticket for the entire trip using Qantas would have cost £7,712.

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Deirdre Brock MP, the Scottish National Party's environment spokesperson, said that the trip was a "grotesque misuse of taxpayers’ money to fund her jet-set lifestyle".

Councillor Louise Pepper, who is responsible for the environment at Uttlesford District Council, said that the government must think carefully about its green goals.

Cllr Pepper said: "Of course government ministers sometimes need to travel by private plane, and I am glad that they are flying from Stansted because it benefits the economy in our community.

"But we are in a climate emergency.

"They must look at conducting meetings more sustainably.

"When will the penny drop?"

Ms Truss met with Australia government officials and gave a speech in Adelaide.

An FCDO spokesperson said: "It’s necessary for the Foreign Secretary to travel abroad to pursue UK interests around security, trade and technology.

"Travelling this way allows Ministers to have private discussions on security matters and flexibility to respond to rapidly changing global events.

"This trip used government transport and was fully within rules."

The Ministerial Code notes that ministers' decisions must offer the taxpayer "value for money".

The contract for the government's public sector air travel, which Stansted-based Titan Airways operates, is worth £75 million.