Blair holiday to be investigated

Tony Blair is facing questions from Parliament's ethics watchdog over claims that he failed to declare a holiday with a powerful businessman with close links to the tobacco industry.

Sir Philip Mawer, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, has asked the Prime Minister why he failed to record a family holiday in the chateau of the billionaire businessman Alain Dominique Perrin in the Commons' register of interests.

The questions follow complaints from Tories because of M. Perrin's former role as chief senior executive in the French luxury goods firm Richemont, which owns brands such as Cartier and Dunhill, and also has a £3bn stake in British American Tobacco.

The Blair family's five-day holiday at Chateau Lagrezette in Caillac, which took place in 2002, was first revealed by The Independent on Sunday, leading to criticisms from some Labour backbenchers because of M. Perrin's links to the tobacco industry.

At the time, the Government was proposing a ban on smoking in public places. Labour MPs feared it could rekindle the controversy that engulfed Labour over the £1m donation by F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone just before ministers exempted motor racing from a ban on tobacco advertising.

Prompted by the Tory MP Chris Grayling, Sir Philip asked Mr Blair to explain why he had not entered the holiday in the Commons' register. Mr Blair insisted his friendship with M. Perrin is private and has had no bearings on his duties nor was there any conflict of interest.

Sir Philip accepted that explanation and seemed to agree that Mr Blair did not have to declare it. But according to reports in The Sunday Telegraph, the Commissioner has again asked Mr Blair for an explanation after being pressed to make further inquiries by Mr Grayling.

Under parliamentary rules, MPs are obliged to provide information of any "material benefit [which] might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions".

During the family's stay at the chateau, Mr Blair spent one working day with the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Reports quoted Mr Grayling as saying: "Although one day was spent on official business, I am not sure this would exempt him from having to declare it. I am not seeking to allege any impropriety ... but surely in the circumstances the Prime Minister would be bound by the rules to declare the hospitality?"

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Blair's officials were talking to Sir Philip about the complaint and were co-operating. A spokeswoman said: "Anything that needs to be registered will be registered ... There is correspondence going on."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power