Anger as foreign aid chief who 'wasted' taxpayers' money makes New Year Honours list

Sir Mark is the most senior civil servant at the Department for International Development Credit: PA

The foreign aid chief who has come under fire for wasting taxpayers' money is among those awarded New Year honours, prompting criticism that some on the list are being "rewarded for failure".

Mark Lowcock, the permanent secretary at the Department for International Development (Dfid), has been awarded a knighthood.

But the career civil servant, who started at Dfid in 1985, has been blamed for some controversial allocations of Britain's £12 billion foreign aid budget, among them the building of a £285 million airport on the remote island of St Helena.

The airport was branded a failure last week when it was revealed it is too windy for commercial planes to land there.

Tory MP Philip Davies told the Daily Mail that Sir Mark should be known as "Sir Waste-a-Lot" given the costly mistakes made by his department.

He added: "He certainly hasn't been knighted for services to the UK taxpayer.

"If squandering billions of pounds on greedy consultants and corrupt countries, and having the highest paid staff in the civil service gets you a knighthood these days, then God help us.

"It certainly detracts from the other very deserving people on the list."

Taxpayers money was used to fund a 'failed' airport on the remote island of St Helena Credit: PA

Other public servants to have received honours include Sarah Pearson, head of customer services at the personal tax division of HM Revenue and Customs; Oliver Morley, the chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency; and David Behan, who has been chief executive of the Care Quality Commission since 2012.

According to The Telegraph, civil servants from the home office, Prime Minister Theresa May's former department, have been awarded more honours than any other in Whitehall.

Ms May had previously pledged to shake up the honours system, amid accusations of cronyism.

But Labour MP John Mann told newspaper that the latest batch of honours was "more reward for failure, an irritation that needs preventing in the future".

The government, however, defended the New Years Honours list, emphasising the independent oversight of nominations, which can be submitted by Whitehall departments and members of the public.

"Honours are rewards for hard work and contributions to civic society," a government source said.

"All nominations for honours are assessed by one of the nine independent honours committees."