GIOVANNA Fletcher has admitted to a "huge error in judgement" after The Sun revealed she'd claimed thousands of pounds from the furlough scheme following her I'm A Celeb win.
We told on Sunday that the 36-year-old star and her McFly husband Tom, worth an estimated £8million, had received up to £30,000 of government cash.
A spokeswoman for Giovanna declined to comment at the time, but the mother-of-three has now taken to Instagram to acknowledge their decision.
In a brief social media statement, the TV favourite confirmed that the money was for a member of their team who they'd placed on furlough.
However, she admitted that she and Tom should have "funded it themselves" – and said they'd paid the "full amount" back.
Gi began: "Hi everyone, we have always had a very honest and open relationship with you all on here so we thought it was important to address questions that some of you have rightly asked us in the last 24 hours."
She went on: "It's true that we did follow financial advice to furlough someone we employ.
"This was for a member of our team who couldn't carry out their role due to the pandemic, and the scheme was suggested to us as the most effective way to give them job stability and security.
"Although it was a time of great uncertainty, we clearly should have thought more about the situation and funded it ourselves."
Giovanna concluded: "It was a huge error of judgement and a mistake we wholeheartedly take responsibility for and we have paid the full amount back."
Comments on the Instagram post were turned off.
A HMRC register of claims shows the pair received support shortly after Giovanna triumphed on I'm A Celeb in December.
Her ITV victory in Gwrych Castle in North Wales saw her fortunes rocket as offers, said to be worth up to £4million, rolled in.
Downloads to her podcast, Happy Mum Happy Baby, also soared to more than 12 million, boosting her earnings.
Files released by HMRC last week listed more than 600,000 companies and individuals who received taxpayers’ support between January and March this year.
It was not clear if Giovanna or Tom were claiming the money for themselves or for an employee. Companies House records state Giovanna Fletcher Ltd in 2019 had one employee and £300,000-plus in the bank.
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