Royal Mint executive earning £123,000 salary 'claimed £45,000 on expenses including 45p pack of tissues'

Chris Baynes
The Royal Mint's bullion sales tripled in the past three years: Getty

An executive at the government-owned Royal Mint reportedly billed the taxpayer for a 45p packet of tissues as he clocked up £45,000 in expenses in a year.

Director of bullion Chris Howard also claimed for a 50p packet of chewing gum and a £1.50 bottle of water despite earning £123,000 a year, according to the Sunday Times.

He ordered a $14 Bloody Mary at 11.30am during a business trip to Las Vegas, figures obtained by the newspaper through a Freedom of Information request revealed.

Mr Howard's bills apparently provided a glimpse into the extraordinary lifestyle of a man who travels the globe selling bullion.

He spent £15,000 stay at some of the world's most luxurious hotels last year and £8,700 entertaining contacts and staff, the newspaper reported.

But the 57-year-old, from Fulham, west London, appears to have modest culinary tastes - regularly choosing fast food over fine dining. Meals from McDonald's and KFC were on the menu during a trip to Jackson, Ohio.

The globetrotting director's work spanned much of the world in last year, including visits to California, Melbourne, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing.

A Royal Mint spokeswoman said: "Mr Howard’s commercial activities on the organisation’s behalf necessitate frequent meetings with customers and distribution partners across the world, in order to grow sales.

"Business travel in the UK and overseas forms a significant part of his working time, representing the organisation as the face of Royal Mint Bullion overseas."

The mint said Mr Howard had the option of claiming £5 a day for expenses and £10 if staying abroad but "instead claims actual expenditure, which is lower”.

The mint's bullion sales have "grown significantly" since Mr Howard was tasked with expanding the division, the spokeswoman added. Profits climbed from £1.5m in 2014 to £4.6m at the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

The Royal Mint, established 1,131 years ago, is a limited company but is owned by the government.

Based in Llantrisant, south Wales, it is the world's leading export mint and sells coins, medals and other types of bullion to about 60 countries as well as producing the UK's coinage. Exports make up about 70 per cent of it sales.