LONDON - Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office (NAO), which is charged with ensuring that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely, has resigned to avoid any conflicts of interest with other posts he holds, his office said.
The decision follows criticism from opposition parties over the amount of public money he himself spent on foreign travel and entertaining.
Bourn, 73, has been head of the NAO since 1988. Previously he held senior positions in the Ministry of Defence and the Northern Ireland Office. His job at the NAO was to oversee billions of pounds of government expenditure and private contracts from business to run state services, to ensure value for money.
Details of his spending were first obtained under freedom of information laws and later released in full by the NAO itself.
— Bourn’s expenses bill totalled 336,000 pounds for trips to more than 40 countries over the last three years including destinations like Mauritius and the Bahamas.
— The Mauritius trip was for a “peer review” of the island’s audit office.
— His wife accompanied him on 22 of the trips at a cost of 76,000 pounds. She did not go on his trips to Moldova and Kazakhstan.
— The couple travelled first class on long-haul flights and business class on shorter ones.
— Bourn spent 27,000 pounds over the period on meals at some of London’s most fashionable hotels and restaurants like the Ritz, the Savoy, Wiltons and Bibendum.