'Bling' from Berlusconi among the gifts in Tony Blair's diplomatic goody-bag

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Indy Politics

Among the gifts from the Italian government, the Prime Minister was given a watch in April last year, earrings and a ring in May, a bracelet, a necklace and two watches in July and a sculpture in October.

Downing Street denied that Mr Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, liked "bling", and insisted that the gifts were part of normal diplomatic practice.

All were retained by the Government, or sold for charity, except for two watches, which were bought by Mr Blair for £350.

Mr Blair, who is a frequent visitor to Italy for his summer holiday, was also given an electric car by the president of the legendary Italian sports car maker Ferrari, according to the figures discosed yesterday, which cover the last financial year.

They were among 24 gifts valued at £140 or more declared by Mr Blair in the 12 months to April this year. Ministers may keep gifts below that value. No 10 declined to give full details of the gifts, which were listed in the annual report of valuable presents handed to ministers.

Mr Blair only bought the watches from the Italian government and a porcelain dish worth £175 from the government of Turkey.

The President of Yemen gave Mr Blair a sports dagger and jewellery, while he received a musical box from the King of Bahrain and another dagger from the Malaysian government. Other gifts included a bronze fox from the Belgium government, a vase from Hungary and a sculpture from the President of Poland. Overall the haul included five watches, three vases, and two daggers.

President Chirac of France gave Mr Blair wine, but the vintage and producer are not recorded.

One of the more remarkable gifts was a Segway Transporter, a two-wheeled electric buggy, given to Mr Blair by the King of Jordan. The American President, George Bush, had a mishap with a similar transporter in 2003.

Geoff Hoon, the former Defence Secretary, was given a hamper of food by the ambassador of Bahrain. He held on to the contents up to the £140 limit, and handed the rest to the MoD.