TWO North-East universities have defending credit card spending at a lap dancing club and Las Vegas casino.

A freedom of information request revealed that staff at Northumbria University spent £2,184 as corporate guests at lap-dance club Spearmint Rhino, while two academics from Durham University, which had a £17m credit card bill, spent £2,614 at Caesar’s Palace, in Las Vegas, where they were staying for seven nights for a conference.

A Northumbria University spokesperson said: “The payment made on a university credit card was reimbursed promptly and in full and that is the basis on which the transaction was authorised. This payment was made at a reception following a corporate event at which Northumbria staff were invited guests. University credit cards are used for payment of authorised business expenditure only, in line with the university expenses policy.”

Denise McConnell, interim chief financial officer at Durham University, said: “Durham University has clear policies and procedures in place for the use of all purchasing and travel cards.

“Purchasing and travel cards are issued to staff to enable them to carry out approved university business in the most cost effective way possible. Expenditure on all cards is regularly checked to ensure staff adhere to the university’s policies and procedures.”

Staff at 54 universities spent a total of £204million bill in two years.