Government ministers, opposition politicians, potential Mayoral candidates, well-paid Whitehall mandarins and senior Transport for London executives have all been enjoying slap-up meals and fine wines courtesy of London fare-payers.
In January this site revealed how TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy routinely uses public money to wine and dine guests at exclusive venues including the members-only Groucho Club.
On one occasion generous Londoners splashed out £45 – the cost of an entire week’s travel – for a single bottle of wine at the Ember Yard restaurant in Berwick Street.
In addition to the meals, Sir Peter claims thousands of pounds each year to ride around the capital in taxi cabs and has previously charged fare-payers for magazine subscriptions, toy buses and even coffee mugs for his private office.
New documents released jointly to MayorWatch and politics.co.uk have now revealed the names of some of those enjoying the lavish publicly funded meals.
Among the declared guests are former transport minister Stephen Hammond, Deputy Met Commissioner Craig Mackey, Department for Transport permanent secretary Philip Rutnam and Labour politicians Mary Creagh, Lord Andrew Adonis and potential Mayoral candidate Diane Abbott MP.
A number of TfL contractors and senior staff from partner organisations such as VOSA and Network Rail also appear in the disclosure.
Many of those enjoying the meals already earn generous public sector salaries and all parliamentarians have access to subsidised catering facilities where they could have hosted Sir Peter for less than the sums claimed for.
The latest disclosures reveal the TfL boss paid £138.92, including £44 for a bottle of wine, for him and Mr Hammond at the Groucho club and later used the same venue to treat Ms Abbott and Deputy Commissioner MacKey to a £60 bottle of Perrier Jouet Champagne.
The trio’s entire evening out cost taxpayers £182.97.
On that occasion Sir Peter used his personal card to pay and later claimed the costs back on expenses. It’s unknown whether his guests realised who would ultimately pick up the tab.
Asked to comment on his inclusion in the list of names released by TfL, Lord Adonis told MayorWatch: “I have breakfast with Peter Hendy from time to time to catch up. Sometimes he pays, sometimes I pay – his expenses are entirely a matter for him.”
The most recent receipt provided by TfL covers a £251 meal attended by senior TfL managers Vernon Everitt, Michele Dix and a representative of consultancy firm Volterra.
Between them, Sir Peter, Mr Everitt and and Mrs Dix last year earned over £714,000 plus bonuses.
TfL defended the expenses funded meals, saying: “Sir Peter Hendy is overseeing the delivery of a ten-year multi-billion pound budget to manage transport in London, and also deliver Crossrail and the upgrade of the Tube.
“He travels to and from work by public transport and uses public transport when travelling in the Capital on business.
“There are occasions when his full schedule necessitates the use of taxis, working late into the evening and sometimes hosting dinners with stakeholders. Some, but not all, of the expenses incurred are claimed.”
A spokesperson said TfL would in future routinely publish the names of all those Sir Peter and other senior staff entertain at public cost.
London Assembly members have previously criticised the scale of Sir Peter’s expenses claims which dwarf those of most City Hall politicians.
In addition, senior members of Boris Johnson’s administration have privately expressed concern at Hendy’s apparent unwillingness to rein in his spending at a time when Londoners are being asked to pay ever higher fares.