An investigation into Home Office logs by Byline Times found that £124,262 in taxpayer money was shelled out over the course of the last calendar year on a number of what it describes as "strange" expenses which the office failed to clarify when first approached.
These included £77,269.40 spent at SP Beautiful Brows – a company run by Global Beauty Products – in March, a £5,415.90 Primark receipt in September, and £2,022.64 spent at Neptun Qtu Tirane, which appears to be an electronics store in Albania.
What’s more, the list revealed by Byline Times also included a £900 bill at the Magdelen Arms in Oxford – which recently placed at 72 in the 2021 Estrella Damm Top50 Gastropubs’ top 100 list.
When the Byline Times first approached the Home Office to explain these expenses, and whether they had been submitted in accordance with the department’s policies, a spokesperson said: “Departmental spending must be conducted in accordance with agreed policies, justified, and properly scrutinised.”
Selected Home Office procurement card spending, 2020
- 23 December: £669, Rachael’s Kitchen Limited - the company that owns the Rachael’s Cupcakes brand
- September: £5,415.90, Primark
- 15 June: £849.50, SportsDirect
- 2 April: £864, Hair There and Everywhere - this appears to be a hairdressing salon
- 6 April: £30,000, Global Beauty Products Limited - this company runs ‘Beautiful Brows and Lashes’ store, but also appears to sell personal protective equipment.
- 6 March: £2,022.64, Neptun Qtu Tirane - appears to be an electronics store in Albania
- 9 March: £1,040.69, Folkestone Garden Centre
- 12 March: £3,774.29, Pollyana Restaurant
- 13 March: £919.81, Entertainment EB
- March: SP Beautiful Brows: £77,269.40 - this company appears to be run by Global Beauty Products
- 26 February: £3,952.76, Pollyana Restaurant
- 27 February: £900, The Magdalen Arms
- 24 January: £2,000, Claudia Lamb Independent
‘We make no apology’
However, following a number of press reports that the Home Secretary Priti Patel was personally responsible for these expenses – and accusations that she spent £77,000 on her eyebrows – the Home Office released a more detailed statement via Twitter on 26 March 2021 to clarify the payments.
However, the statement failed to address the bill of £900 at the Magdalen Arms.
FACT CHECK:— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) March 26, 2021
It is wrong to claim the Home Office expenses that have been circulated today are the Home Secretary's.
They are department wide and for vital equipment like PPE.
It is completely false to say the Home Office has spent money on beauty products, it was PPE.
“It is wrong to claim the Home Office expenses that have been circulated today are the Home Secretary’s,” it stated. “They are department wide and for vital equipment like PPE.
“It is completely false to say the Home Office has spent money on beauty products, it was PPE.
“We make no apology for buying PPE to keep our staff safe during the pandemic.
“The spending in Primark was for asylum seekers who would have not had appropriate clothing when arriving in the UK.
“We are committed to delivering the best value for money for the British taxpayer, making sure every pound is spent in the most effective way.”
The Morning Advertiser has contacted the Magdelen Arms for comment.