Leading Article: Blair taken for a spin on the moral barbecue

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TONY BLAIR'S failure to register the hospitality extended to him by Formula One bosses was a fairly trivial offence, to be sure, but it raises an important issue.

Sir Gordon Downey, the public servant paid to stand guard over MPs' morals, concludes that the Blair family day out among the Marlboro hoardings had a "value" of more than pounds 215, and so should have been declared. We are not wholly convinced, because the then leader of the Opposition did not come to see the motor racing, which is why other people pay money for the tickets.

What Sir Gordon did not say, because he appears not to have access to a newspaper cuttings library, is that Mr Blair's children were driven around the Silverstone track by Damon Hill. Now, that is a perk worth a bob or two, which the Prime Minister strangely omitted to mention in his defence.

Which brings us to the serious point. Be he ever so high and ever so convinced of his own moral purity, it is healthy that the Prime Minister be tested on the moral spit on which he so roasted the Tories when he was on their side of the fire.