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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
Blair criticised over Egypt holiday
Tony and Cherie Blair in Egypt
Tony and Cherie visited the pyramids at Giza
Prime Minister Tony Blair's post Christmas winter break in Egypt was paid for by local taxpayers, he has disclosed to a parliamentary watchdog.

Mr Blair says he and his family spent six days at private government villas at a hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh.
Blair's entry on Commons register
December 2001/January 2002, accompanied by my family I spent six nights as a guest of the Egyptian Government at two private Government villas at the New Tower Hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt
The Egyptian Government also provided my family and I with a return flight from Cairo to Sharm-el-Sheikh
I have made charitable donations to a charity chosen by the Egyptian Government equating to the cost to the Egyptians for this accommodation and travel

In the latest edition of the register of MPs' interests, he describes himself "as a guest of the Egyptian government" and reveals that the return flights were paid for by President Hosni Mubarak's government.

But Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said the move could leave the prime minister open to suggestions it had influenced his attitude to the Middle East conflict, according to the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.

'Inappropriate'

Mr Blair insists that he made a donation to a charity chosen by the Egyptian government equivalent to the cost of his trip.

But Mr Baker claims his acceptance of the hospitality has "cheapened" the office of premier.


The prime minister is paid enough not to have to accept hospitality

Norman Baker
Liberal Democrat MP
"It is quite inappropriate," he told the papers.

"The fact he accepted hospitality may be above board but some people may feel it will have an impact on his approach to the Middle East.

"The prime minister is paid enough not to have to accept hospitality. It cheapens the office.

Charity donations

"It would have been better if he had refused the offer and paid his own way rather than having allowed this convoluted arrangement."

Mr Blair, his wife Cherie and their four children, left Britain on 26 December, 2001 for a winter break in Egypt.

They were later seen visiting the pyramids in Giza, one of the seven wonders of the world.

The prime minister faced controversy in the Italian press over his family trip to Tuscany in 1999, which was paid for by Italian taxpayers.

Mr Blair made a similar donation to charity following that trip.

See also:

27 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Winter wonder break for Blair family
20 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Blairs fly to France
27 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Egypt
04 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Home and away for Blairs
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