Blair 'paid for' luxury Miami holiday

Downing Street insists Tony Blair has paid for his Miami holiday
Downing Street insists Tony Blair has paid for his Miami holiday

Downing Street has insisted that Tony Blair is paying to stay at the multi-million pound home of Bee Gees star Robin Gibb in Florida.

The prime minister has come under fire in the past for his habit of staying in friends' luxury villas around the world, and this year's winter holiday in Miami is no exception.

But his office insisted this trip is not a freebie and has been paid for, saying: "The Blairs have made a private agreement and they are paying for their accommodation."

However, this assurance appears to be disputed by Mr Gibb's wife, Dwina, who told the Daily Mail that neither she nor her husband had asked for nor accepted money from Mr Blair for the holiday. She said: "It's just a friendly thing."

The Blairs have had a number of luxury holidays since Labour came to power in 1997, staying at, among others, the Barbados mansion of Cliff Richard, although Mr Blair gave a donation to charity in lieu of rent for this.

The friendship between the two men became controversial earlier this year amid claims that Sir Cliff was lobbying Mr Blair to change the copyright laws.

But the singer has rejected this suggestion and revealed that he had first offered to lend the Mr Blair and his family his mansion in 2003 after seeing the prime minister looking "haggard" during the Iraq war.

Other luxury getaways include a holiday at the Sardinian mansion of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, and a stay at a 12th century chateau owned by high court judge David Keene in the south of France.

This year's winter holiday got off to a bumpy start when the Blairs' plane overshot the runway at Miami international airport on Tuesday night. No-one was injured, and after a 45-minute delay, they were delivered safely to the gate.


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