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Gib mentioned in MoD hotel expenditure

Pic by David Parody

The Ministry of Defence has been criticised for spending tens of thousands of pounds on stays at luxurious hotels, including the Sunborn five-star super yacht in Gibraltar.

According to the Sunday Times, senior military personnel and officials last year enjoyed 75 stays in hotel rooms that cost more than £300 a night. The stays totalled £121,463.

The MoD spent £222 million on travel and hotels in 2014-15, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The expenditure on lavish accommodation comes after years of austerity, which has seen pay freezes and more than 35,000 job cuts across the armed forces since 2011.

It also comes just weeks after a report by MPs which said that housing for Britain's service personnel was so bad that families often had to live without basics such as heating and hot water.

The biggest hotel bill was run up on board Gibraltar’s five-star Sunborn yacht hotel according to the article. A 20 night stay cost personnel £8,880.

The MoD also spent £1,032 on three nights at a five-star Novotel in Sydney's Darling Harbour and £3,639 on 10 nights at the nearby Four Points by Sheraton, reported the newspaper.

The official who stayed at the five-star Grand Hotel Excelsior in Valletta, Malta, could have enjoyed a dip in its large outdoor swimming pool overlooking Marsamxett Harbour, the Sunday Times stated.

Clive Lewis, Labour's shadow defence secretary, said it was "crass and insensitive" to "splash out on such luxury accommodation".

He added: "Some of these hotels are charging eye-watering amounts of money, far beyond what most families on a soldiers' salary would even dream of being able to afford."

Among the most controversial examples of luxury accommodation spending was the £35,600 outlay at 24 top hotels in London where there are a number of military barracks.

Staff spent £3,200 on four nights in five-star suites at the Taj 51 Buckingham Gate. The hotel, which has a Michelin-starred restaurant and boasts of its "acclaimed" butler service, is a one-minute walk from the army's Wellington barracks.

One member of staff spent £312 for a night at the Park Lane hotel in Mayfair, which is less than a mile from Hyde Park barracks. A room at a Travelodge in Marylebone, about 1½ miles away, could cost as little as £79 a night.

A total of £1,696 was spent on three nights at the Royal Horseguards hotel, conveniently situated opposite the MoD's main building in Whitehall.

The MoD said military accommodation in London was in "short supply" and staff would use hotels in the capital only when it was necessary to conduct "essential" business.

The names of hotels used in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Djibouti, Abuja, in Nigeria, and N'Djamena, in Chad, were redacted because of security concerns.

The MoD said: "We are making significant savings in travel costs and always expect our staff to demonstrate the highest standards of responsibility when incurring travel expenses."

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