Tower Hamlets Council has been slated for paying more than £10,000 to Ainsley Harriott to judge a curry competition.

The news that the TV chef went away with £10,750 from the council was discovered through an FOI by The Sun, which revealed that 348 town halls around the country spent a total of £753,013 last year on the services of celebrities for events.

The Sun also reported that 79 councils did not respond to the FOI requests.

Andy Silvester, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, told The Sun: “You couldn’t make it up. The deficit must be cut, and that means councils waging war on wasteful spending like this.”

A Tower Hamlets spokesman said: “The Taste Brick Lane event was organised as part of a longer term objective to support local businesses and markets across Tower Hamlets and was included as part of the council’s 2013-14 budget process.

“This specific event, which Ainsley Harriott attended, was organised to raise the profile of Brick Lane as east London’s premier attraction for food, fashion, spice and culture with a focus on families and tourists.

“Promoting local businesses is a top priority and not only did the event gain great coverage for our restaurants in the national media, it was also very well attended and enjoyed by international tourists, locals and residents across London. We know that this had a beneficial impact for the businesses on Brick Lane.”