Michael Gove denies wasting money on chauffeur driven car

Britain Politics

Conservative chief whip and former education secretary Michael Gove is under fire for using a chauffeur-driven Jaguar to travel just 400 yards.

The journey between Downing Street and the House of Commons takes just five minutes to walk. But Gove frequently uses a £110,000 limo service to make the short trip, which makes the journey in ust a few seconds.

"There's a joke that sometimes it seems like Mr Gove is being driven around in the circles," a source tells the Mirror.

"Living where he does, it's not like he has far to come to work. It's hard to see why he needs to be ferried around in such an extravagant way."

It's unusual for Gove, who's no longer a minister, to have the perk of a chauffeur-driven car - his two predecessors, Sir George Young and Andrew Mitchell, were expected to do without. And David Cameron has on several occasions said he prefers to see ministers use more eco-friendly tgrapsport such as cycling or driving an electric car.

In 2010, the then chief secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, announced plans to cut the use of chauffeur-driven cars by ministers, saying this would save the taxpayer nearly £2.8 million a year.

"Ministers will be expected to walk or take public transport where possible, or use a pooled car," he said.

But according to the Cabinet Office, the journeys had to be made by car as Gove was carrying classified documents.

"On each of these occasions, the car contained highly classified papers which had to be transported from Downing Street to the House of Commons," a spokesman told the Guardian.

"The ministerial code is clear that official cars can be used to transport classified documents which must be handled securely. Therefore, these journeys had to be made regardless of whether the chief whip was in the car himself."

However, it's not clear that all Gove's short hops involved taking classified documents. On February 5, for example, the Mirror spotted him being driven from Parliament to the headquarters of think tank Policy Exchange, a distance of just 320 yards.

He also used the chauffeur-driven car to travel to London radio station LBC in Leicester Square, less than a mile away.

Last summer, it was revealed that the Foreign Office was using chauffeur-driven cars to ferry ministerial boxes around on an almost daily basis - a practice that Andy Silvester of the TaxPayers' Alliance dubbed "luxury travel for glorified briefcases".

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