Three United Kingdom government officials ran up a bill of more than £18,000 (US$25,568) staying at a ‘dream’ holiday resort on a Caribbean island, it can be revealed.
The group were booked in at the luxury Sugar Ridge Resort on Antigua for a total 64 days as they advised the local authorities on drug trafficking.
The destination boasts an infinity pool, waterfalls and private plunge pools as well as a ‘concept’ spa, gym and gourmet restaurant.
A campaign group that scrutinises the spending of taxpayer money in the UK described the expenditure as “just ridiculous”.
Details of the trip, which took place at peak holiday season, were disclosed to MailOnline after a long-running Freedom of Information battle.
Costs included £12,126 for accommodation, £4,144 for subsistence, £1,310 for car hire, and £994 for flights.
The Home Office admitted the idea of government officials staying at a luxury resort might “raise concerns”.
But it insisted Sugar Ridge – which is one of the one of the top rated resorts on Antigua, with some rooms costing upwards of US$600 a night – offered the right balance between “cost and security”.
The resort’s website described it as a ‘stylish and intimate family owned lifestyle boutique hotel for discerning travellers who want to connect with the beautiful island of Antigua in a special way’.
Guests are also advised it is the “perfect place to retreat, relax, recharge and re-energise, and the perfect base from which to explore”.
A particular feature is “Carmichael’s infinity pool”, which is said to be ‘perfect for sunset gazing and conversations, with drinks served poolside’.
The FOI response from the Home Office said officials had been invited by the Antiguan Customs authorities to help “build the capacity and capability” at the country’s main airport.
It said smuggling of Class A drugs from the region, often having originated in South America, represented a “real and present threat to the UK”.
Chloe Westley, campaign manager at the UK’s TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “This is just ridiculous.
“Hard pressed families who work hard and pay their taxes could only dream of experiencing some of the luxuries that these officials have taken for granted on the public purse.
“The Home Office should be more respectful of taxpayers money and reconsider whether these working visits abroad are needed, especially at a time when other savings are being made across government departments.”