Jet-setters will be able to spend, spend, spend

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The Independent Travel

As the newly crowned queen of jet-setting shopaholics, Coleen McLoughlin is likely to have breathed a sigh of relief - when the Chancellor announced that he planned to seek a 700 per cent rise in duty-free limits for long-haul travellers.

As the newly crowned queen of jet-setting shopaholics, Coleen McLoughlin is likely to have breathed a sigh of relief - when the Chancellor announced that he planned to seek a 700 per cent rise in duty-free limits for long-haul travellers.

The measure would open the floodgates for legions of shoppers to travel far and wide to retail meccas such as New York and not have to pay duty on goods up to £1,000 - compared to the current £145 limit on destinations outside the European Union.

Ms McLoughlin, an aspiring actress who seems to be as famous for her penchant for yellow tracksuits as for her relationship with the Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney, learnt her lesson the hard way. Last October, she was stopped at Manchester airport with piles of designer clothes and jewellery worth an estimated £15,000. She was returning from a weekend of "retail therapy" with a bunch of girlfriends in New York

Customs officials had been alerted to her case on the eve of her trip when a large amount of cash was withdrawn from a Manchester bank. But it was thought to have been newspaper photographs of Ms McLoughlin struggling bravely to cope with dozens of designer shopping bags that convinced them to intervene on her return.

Her failure to notice the necessity of paying duty on goods led to a two-hour interrogation at the hands of Customs officials and a bill of about £3,000.

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