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Taxpayers fund lavish corporate functions

Northern Ireland's best-known exams body has come under scrutiny after spending taxpayers' money on corporate hospitality.

CCEA is one of the education bodies which would cease to exist if a single education authority was established.

Earlier this week it emerged that CCEA had spent thousands of pounds hiring a private jet to fly delegates from Belfast to Galway for the bi-annual meeting of Northern Ireland's and the Republic's curriculum bodies.

Other lavish spending included a lunch bill of £1,009 for 20 people at Tedford's to celebrate an OBE awarded to a former CCEA chairman. The expenditure on events and corporate hospitality came to light following a series of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests from a member of the public.

In October 2008 CCEA members also ran up a bill of almost £7,000 sending 12 members to Paris for two days to collect a European Business Excellence Award.

Its biggest expenditure was for a two-day event in Letterkenny in 2004 which was attended by 88 delegates and cost .

Four of the CCEA's conferences were held in Belfast hotels within walking distance of its Clarendon Docks headquarters, including one where 20 staff were put up in the Radisson Hotel for the night.

Both CCEA and the Department of Education, which CCEA reports to, said that many of the policies and procedures used within CCEA have "evolved considerably since the period under review".

Belfast Telegraph