15 January 1999

Brown embroiled in private jet row

FARM minister Nick Brown has become embroiled in a row over the use of private jets by his predecessor Jack Cunningham.

Tory critics claim that, during his time as minister, Dr Cunningham breached rules obliging him to ensure he travelled by the most cost-effective means.

Mr Brown has revealed that Dr Cunningham used private jets for seven European journeys.

According to press reports earlier this week, the cost of the private flights was as high as £6560 a time, compared with an average scheduled business class fare of £438.

Dr Cunningham travelled with up to 12 civil servants on the trips and the total bill came to £45,920, compared with the £27,000 it would have cost using scheduled flights.

Tim Yeo, shadow farm minister, said Dr Cunningham "had been caught with his snout in the trough".

But Dr Cunningham defended himself, saying that several of the trips were combined, over a short period of time. The schedule would not have been possible using commercial flights, he said. &#42