Pope’s state visit – expenses scandal redux
The Prime Minister has deployed a team of civil servants to help co-ordinate preparations with the Roman Catholic church, as well as appointing Lord Patten as his “personal representative” for the trip.
He is now prepared to see the Government’s costs for the event, previously estimated at £15million, increase by as much as £4million in order to make sure it runs smoothly.
Despite cost-cutting across Whitehall, Number 10 feels it cannot scrimp on arrangements for the first-ever papal state visit to this country, including a meeting between the Queen and Benedict XVI, which will be watched intently around the world.
“There is a huge reputational issue at stake: we cannot appear to be treating a guest with discourtesy,” said one source working on the plans.