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Liz Truss contests £12,000 bill over use of Chevening country house

Liz Truss contests £12,000 bill over use of Chevening country house

Liz Truss is contesting a government bill relating to her use of the grace-and-favour country house she had access to as foreign secretary.

The former Conservative prime minister has been asked to foot a bill of about £12,000 for costs incurred at Chevening House in Kent.

The bill covers the period last year when Ms Truss was running to be the leader of the Conservative Party.

The government said it was a matter for the Chevening Trust.

Ms Truss was foreign secretary when she used Chevening House in August 2022 as she prepared for power during the Tory leadership contest.

Conservative Party members elected Ms Truss to be leader in September last year, but her government collapsed within 45 days after her tax-cutting mini-budget spooked financial markets.

Chevening, a Grade I-listed, 115-room country house, was left to the nation by 7th Earl Stanhope following his death in 1967.

Since then, it has been up to the prime minister to decide who uses Chevening, with the foreign secretary the usual beneficiary.

The BBC has been told that Ms Truss's Chevening bill - which was first reported by the Mail on Sunday newspaper - covers missing items, including bathrobes, which she is happy to pay to replace.

But the former prime minister is maintaining that the majority of the invoice relates to using Chevening for government business, meaning she should not be liable for most of the bill.

Those close to Ms Truss have stressed that she will account for all personal expenses incurred.

A government spokesperson said: "Costs and funding relating to Chevening House are a matter for the Chevening Trust."

And "where appropriate", the government said it works closely with the Chevening Trust "to ensure costs incurred are allocated accordingly".

Liz Truss was granted access to Chevening House when she was foreign secretary

The ministerial rulebook states "where ministers host party or personal events in [official] residences it should be at their own or party expense with no cost falling to the public purse".

A spokesman for Ms Truss said: "Liz always paid for the costs of her personal guests at Chevening.

"The latest invoice contains a mixture of costs for her personally and costs for official government business with civil servants including [Cabinet Secretary] Simon Case and senior officials from other departments who met at Chevening during the transition preparations.

"The latter constitutes the majority of the bill. It would be inappropriate for her to pay the costs for officials as it would have breached the Civil Service Code for civil servants to accept hospitality during the leadership campaign. She has therefore asked for this to be billed separately."

Ms Truss is still an MP and has spent some of her time giving speeches about her economic philosophy since she left office, with the latest register of interests for MPs showing she received £65,000 for one speaking engagement.

Ms Truss - the shortest-serving prime minister in history - claimed her government was partly brought down by what she called "the left-wing economic establishment".

She has ruled out running as prime minister again, but is planning to stand again as the MP for South West Norfolk at the next general election.


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