What a colossal waste of money
I happen to be an AdWords campaign manager, but my monthly budget is only around 40k. I'm well aware of how easy it is to waste massive amounts of money on Google if the accounts are being managed by anyone without serious experience in PPC campaigns.
They probably didn't even geo-target their ads properly to make them shown only in the UK. I can imagine university kids in Brazil clicking on UK government ads telling them how to lose weight.
They probably do bid on terms where they rank well organically. They probably also spend a lot of money competing with themselves, as the article notes.