Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Taxpayers foot £13k bill for ex-chief’s trips

Taxpayers have forked out almost £13,000 to fly a former RUC Chief Constable to the UK from his home in the Middle East, it has been revealed.

Former Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan lives in the United Arab Emirates, where he works as an advisor to the Abu Dhabi police.

But around once a month he chairs meetings of the Home Office's senior appointments panel, which vets candidates for chief constable posts.

Since the end of last year the department has paid for trips - most with business class tickets - costing £12,793, Police Review magazine reported.

In the same time, Sir Ronnie has also claimed nearly £500 to pay for overnight accommodation and local travel.

He is also paid around £1,000 a month to fulfil the role, he told the magazine.

Sir Ronnie, a former HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said where possible, he tried to arrange for meetings to take place when he was already in the UK.

He said: “I tend to seek out the cheapest business class flight available and to fly in and out the same day.

“The job does not just involve the one meeting a month as there is a great deal of preparatory work to be done.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Sir Ronnie brings huge experience to the role and in-depth knowledge and understanding of policing.

“Since 1 December 2008, when Sir Ronnie Flanagan took up his post he has attended the seven meetings of the panel which have been held during that time.

“He has claimed reimbursement for flights in respect of five of those meetings, a total of £12,793.17, including mainly business class, but also economy class, fares.

“The other expenses claimed by Sir Ronnie during those eight months were for overnight accommodation and local travel, a total of £490.50.”

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