Liz Truss ‘overruled officials’ to demand she used a millionaire Tory donor’s Mayfair club to wine and dine a US diplomat with a £1,400 lunch.

After spending hundreds on wine and gin alone, the Foreign Secretary was ‘explicitly requested’ by Robin Birley to access 5 Hertford Street, central London’s, by the Foreign Secretary.

Reports The Sunday Times that Ms Truss reportedly “refused” to consider other options for lunch.

London’s most secretive and influential members club, 5 Hertford Street was where Prince Harry and Meghan first met. It is also where Tony Blair had a glass of wine with Rupert Murdoch and Wendy Deng. 

Its owner, Mr Birley, is the half brother of Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park and donated £20,000 towards Boris Johnson’s leadership bid. 

This venue was also used 46 by the Foreign Secretary to host “Fizz with Liz” meetings with Tory MPs, and “Biz for Liz” events with possible financial backers for leadership. 

In June, she requested departmental funds to host a £3,000 lunch there with Katherine Tai, Jo Biden’s trade representative, while International Trade Secretary.

The cost of the venue was a concern for civil servants, who were also concerned about its connections to Tory party. They referred the suggestion by Ms Truss to the permanent secretary, which is the highest ranking official in the department.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss 'explicitly asked' to use 5 Hertford Street in Mayfair, owned by millionaire aristocrat Robin Birley

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss ‘explicitly asked’ to use Mayfair: 5 Hertford Street, owned by millionaire aristocrat Robin Birley

5 Hertford Street in Mayfair

5 Hertford Street in Mayfair

Officials described the club’s cost as “obviously outrageously expensive” and “more than we would normally expect to pay for such an event.”

They added that SoS (Truss), Katherine Tai, was hosting them tomorrow night for dinner. She would like to do this in her own private dining room.

‘[Her special adviser] is insisting it takes place at a private members’ club called 5 Hertford Street. She’s recommended this based on having been there before — her argument is that it’s of the appropriate size and standing.

‘To my knowledge we haven’t hosted anyone there before as a department.’

The email said official had suggested another option, Quo Vadis in Soho, which ‘costs only £1,000’. 

This request was declined by Ms Truss. However, she insisted that we book 5 Hertford Street and Quo vadis.

The email continued: ‘Something we’ve just discovered is the owner … is Robin Birley, a donor of the PM, Conservative Party and Ukip. 

I understand that the venue has party events. That is probably how SoS works. [her special adviser]It is important to know.

Civil servants subsequently entered negotiations with the venue regarding the price, leading to its events manager agreeing to waive hire fees and reduce the overall bill to £1,400 on the agreement it is paid immediately after the meeting.

Civil servants had to use an emergency procedure to approve the payment because of this condition.

A second official stated that the payment must be made public under transparency rules. However, he assured the public that the transaction could be justified as the discount was a’real VFM. [value for money]’.

John Alty, permanent secretary, said that he was satisfied with the agreement.

Ms Truss used the venue to host a lunch with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (pictured)

Ms Truss hosted a lunch at the location with Katherine Tai, US Trade Representative (pictured).

Robin Birley (pictured) is the half brother of Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park and donated £20,000 towards Boris Johnson's leadership bid

Robin Birley (pictured) is the half brother of Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park and donated £20,000 towards Boris Johnson’s leadership bid

It is understood ten people were present at the dinner, with a receipt showing Ms Truss, Ms Tai and others purchased two bottles of Tanqueray, the London dry gin, three £153 bottles of Pazo Barrantes Albarino by Marqués de Murrieta and two bottles of £130 Coudoulet de Beaucastel.

Despite regularly playing host to politicians, royals and stars of the stars of the entertainment industry, with its basement club Loulou’s having showcased the dancing styles of George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio, 5 Hertford Street had losses of £236,873. 

Ms Truss leapt ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak as Tory members’ favourite to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister last week, according to a new poll.

According to figures by Conservative Home, the UK’s new top diplomat and leading Brexit negotiator has outperformed the Chancellor in popularity following his November tax-and-spend budget. 

But Mr Johnson’s friends rebuked Ms Truss over her pathetic leadership jockeying.

According to a spokesperson for the Department for International Trade, the diplomatic dinner was attended by senior UK officials and US counterparts.