An investigation into chefs' kickbacks has struck at the very heart of the UK establishment following the arrest of the executive chefs for both the House of Commons and House of Lords.
The Inland Revenue has been keen to crack down on backhanders in the kitchen, but this is the first time names and places have come to light.
David Dorricott, who heads up the catering team at the House of Commons, and Mark Thatcher, his counterpart at the House of Lords, have been questioned by police over allegations that they were taking money from food suppliers in return for multimillion-pound catering contracts.
Scotland Yard confirmed that it had arrested two men, aged 53 and 48, "in connection with an investigation into alleged offences of corruption". These related to "alleged financial irregularities in connection with catering contracts".
Both chefs have been released on bail, and are due to be questioned again next month, when they will be charged, released or bailed again.
Sue Harrison, director of catering services at the House of Commons, said she could not comment on reports concerning individual staff.
The scale of potential corruption at the Commons is immense - the House has 25 restaurants, bars and canteens and serves about 8,000 meals a day. This year the bill from the Commons for food and drink, which includes outlets open to the public, totalled £11.9m, of which £5.6m was subsidised by the taxpayer.
The House of Lords, which is currently in recess, was unavailable for comment.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 26 August 2004