Tony Blair ‘took 76 gifts when he left Downing Street’

Sunday, October 17, 2010

LONDON - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair took with him a haul of gifts when he left Downing Street, including 12 expensive watches and guitars given to him by rock stars.

He could now cash in on the presents by selling them at a profit, it has been suggested.

The full catalogue of 76 gifts handed over and which he chose to keep during his time in office was made public only after a 10-month Freedom of Information campaign.

It was already known he had kept 22 gifts, including two 350-pound watches received from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi which Blair paid 200 pounds each for.

The newly published list includes another 54 items, among them 12 more watches - nine of them also from Berlusconi, and three electric guitars.

One of the instruments was handed over by guitar-making firm Fender, another came from Canadian singer Bryan Adams and the third was signed and presented by U2 frontman Bono.

Presents handed over by guests including visiting heads of state become the property of the government, but ministers can keep any that are worth less than 140 pounds or buy them for their market value, minus a 140-pound discount.

“The guitars could be worth a great deal if they are vintage, were used in any major recordings or on tours or if they were owned previously by Bono or Bryan Adams,” the Daily Express quoted Stephanie Connell, from auction house Bonhams, as saying.

Other gifts Blair held on to include jewellery, vases, rugs and daggers handed over by officials from Yemen, Oman and Bahrain.

He also took with him a nativity scene from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and an iPod from California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (ANI)

Filed under: Politics

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