LABOUR have been left red-faced after calling out a “lavish spending culture” in Whitehall, with deputy leader Angela Rayner forced to defend claiming Apple products on expenses.

Rayner bought a new iPad – costing around £1600 - and personalised £249 AirPods with her MP funds during the Covid lockdown in 2020.

Her spending spree was flagged up to her in interviews on Tuesday after Labour raised concerns about dining and alcohol purchases in Whitehall after an analysis of the use of government procurement cards.

The party highlighted almost £345,000 spent by Foreign Office (FCDO) officials in 2021 under the heading “restaurants and bars”, as well as entertainment spending and evidence of end-of-year sprees to use up budgets.

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Labour has compiled a dossier on the use of the cards which showed that across 2021 for 14 major Whitehall departments, a total of at least £145.5 million was spent using GPCs.

That figure was up from £84.9 million in 2010/11 in the equivalent departments, although around £20 million of the difference could be explained through inflation.

Rayner said she is totally transparent as an MP and dismissed her equipment purchases as being on the same level as that unearthed through GPC files.

She said on Times Radio: “I'm actually using the equipment right now as I'm speaking to you on the iPad.

“This is what I'm using to do my job – in fact I think it's three years old now – to do my work as an MP and it's totally transparent.

“I don't think the £1600 on that is the same as millions of pounds that is being used on these credit cards in an inappropriate way.

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'You know, we need to make sure there's transparency and that the public are getting value for money.

“I can absolutely justify my use of using electronic equipment to do my job, especially when I'm not – during the pandemic – when I wasn't in the office in Westminster.

“'And as I say, now I'm speaking to you on that very iPad that was purchased.”