PUBLISHED: 21:43 GMT, 2 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:50 GMT, 2 June 2012
Tory party co-chairman Sayeeda Warsi faced questions last night over trips to the Middle East funded by the Saudi Arabian government.
It paid for two visits by Baroness Warsi to Saudi Arabia, covering a total of 20 days.
On one trip, which took place after she became a member of David Cameron’s Government, she was joined by her husband.
The row comes after Lady Warsi was accused of claiming accommodation expenses while staying rent-free with a friend.
She has denied the claims but the House of Lords standards watchdog is investigating.
A few months before the 2010 Election, the Tory peer travelled to Saudi Arabia for a ten-day trip involving official visits to Saudi government departments.
Her travel and accommodation were paid for by the country’s embassy in London.
In November 2010, Lady Warsi, by now a Minister, made another ten-day trip to the Gulf state, also at the expense of the Saudi government.
Lady Warsi, Britain’s first female Muslim Cabinet Minister, has declared both trips in the House of Lords register of outside interests but the costs have not been disclosed. However, return flights alone from London to Saudi capital Riyadh can cost as much as £2,500 in business class.
Lady Warsi, 41, last night denied any wrongdoing, saying she had conducted the visits ‘entirely openly’. She added that her husband ‘met his own costs’.
But Labour MP and former Defence Minister Kevan Jones said: ‘Lady Warsi still has serious questions to answer. It is highly unusual for a Minister to go on an overseas trip paid for by a foreign government.’
Last night, Scotland Yard revealed a member of the public had filed a complaint of theft in relation to the expenses allegations against Lady Warsi.