£500k – what it cost to feed (and water) G20 leaders

When the world's most powerful leaders descended on London last month to tackle the economic crisis, they left Gordon Brown basking in the glory of brokering a deal to pump billions into the world's economy.

But it also left British taxpayers with a less desirable legacy – a bill of about £500,000 for wining and dining the delegates, their partners and their aides, The Independent can reveal.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that the cost of a series of dinners for dignitaries on the eve of the summit, crucial to boosting Mr Brown's global standing, cost more than £66,000. The high-profile guests consumed 136 bottles of wine worth £6,000, all paid for by the taxpayer.

Events laid on for the VIPs before the 2 April summit included a dinner, complete with a menu by Jamie Oliver, for the leaders and their partners at Nos 10 and 11 Downing Street.

The guests, including Barack and Michelle Obama, were treated to organic Scottish salmon, followed by shoulder of lamb from the Elwy Valley in north Wales.

A string of celebrities, including the athlete Dame Kelly Holmes and the Harry Potter author JK Rowling, were also invited to the banquet.

Foreign and finance ministers were treated to entertainment at Lancaster House and the Tate Modern. The bill also included buffets for as many as 220 aides, bag carriers and advisers, but the bulk of the budget was used to cater for the 102 guests at the three events across London.

The cost of keeping 800 officials, 200 VIPs and other staff such as security workers and interpreters on the day of the conference at east London's ExCel Centre came to more than £435,000, although the Foreign Office says it can claw back some of the VAT it paid.

A top wine list was also drawn up, including English brands. The Foreign Office said it bought the wine for a fraction of its normal price by purchasing years ago, using the bottles only when they had matured. But the size of the total sum has left many MPs arguing that the public has been left footing the bill for an event designed to bolster the Prime Minister's reputation abroad.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said: "The picture of world leaders enjoying fine wine and great food, while thousands of people are worried about their jobs and homes is not a good one."

Grant Shapps, the Conservative front-bencher who has in the past exposed Government spending on hospitality, said the bill showed that Labour still "didn't get it".

The Foreign Office defended the hospitality costs, saying: "This was the most significant international gathering in the UK since the G8 in 2005."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea