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Exposed: Spending watchdog hired vanity photographer to snap boozy parties

The Audit Commission – the spending watchdog supposedly in charge of overseeing value for money in town halls – has been exposed hiring a vanity photographer to snap drink-fuelled parties at taxpayers’ expense, and spending public money on a lavish series of events for friends of the quango.

New answers to Parliamentary Question have revealed that the spending watchdog blew £12,000 on ‘alumni’ events for its former staff, holding drinks receptions at posh London hotels, such as the five-star Royal Horseguards (itself costing over £130 a head). At the same time, they spent £7,000 on ‘vanity photography’ to illustrate in their corporate brochures how they were saving money, including snapping their lavish alumni events and parties.

Photographer Frank Noon - who provides a premium corporate photography service - was paid to snap the pictures of the quango’s staff and former staff at a variety of opulent and exclusive venues, including up the BT Tower, Savoy Place, Lancaster House and the Reform Club. The events for alumni even included ‘branded’ Audit Commission fish and chips as part of the bespoke hospitality. 

This follows a series of shocking spending revelations by the quango under the last Labour administration. The Audit Commission is being abolished by the Coalition Government.

Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, said:

“This is further proof that the Audit Commission has completely lost its way, and is not fit to be a spending watchdog. It is incredible that taxpayers’ money has been wasted on partying away at some of the most expensive venues in London, with a personal photographer in tow. Under Labour, taxpayers’ money was routinely poured down the drain - encouraged by the watchdogs who were supposed to be protecting the public purse, not living the high life.”

Aidan Burley, MP for Cannock Chase, added:

“This is organised treating at public expense. It is a scandal that taxpayers’ money has been channelled into entertaining the mates of this Labour quango. Such Labour waste is an insult to hard-working taxpayers across the country”.


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