ooh the web we weave.....In November last year he is believed to have hired a Gulfstream IV owned by British-based banker Sir Evelyn de Rothschild...
Tony Blair may have been forced to scrap plans to buy a fleet of planes dubbed ‘Blair Force One’ when he was in No10, but it seems the would-be President of Europe is still determined to travel in style.
The former Prime Minister has taken to hiring top-of-the-range Gulfstream private jets to transport him and his entourage as he carries out his current portfolio of jobs, which include adviser to the Rwandan government and representative of the Quartet, the international organisation involved in negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine.
The American-made jet, a favourite toy of billionaires, has a top speed of over 500mph and can seat around 19 people in its luxurious 45ft cabin.
It was one of the models Mr Blair’s Government considered buying in 2005 for ministerial use, before public outrage at the £80million cost saw the project being rejected by Parliament.
Since leaving office Mr Blair has used a number of Gulfstream planes, including a South African-registered Gulfstream V jet based at Luton Airport.
In November last year he is believed to have hired a Gulfstream IV owned by British-based banker Sir Evelyn de Rothschild for a three-day return trip to Rwanda at an estimated cost of £83,000, including fuel.
Sir Evelyn, 77, who was one of a number of billionaires to dine at Downing Street in Mr Blair’s final days in power, has owned the plane since 2002 through a company called Metropix.
He hires it out through brokers in London and Luton.
In 2000, Sir Evelyn donated £250,000 to the Policy Network, a think-tank presided over by Peter Mandelson which organises many of the conferences – including in Washington, South Africa and Budapest – at which Mr Blair gives speeches.
And in 2003, Sir Evelyn’s wife, Lynn, offered her services as a fundraiser to the Labour Party, reportedly saying: ‘Whatever Labour wants, I would be happy to help in any way I can.’
But Mr Blair’s office has insisted that it hires jets on an anonymous basis through a broker in London.
A spokesman said: ‘The charter was procured through a broker in the UK. We pay the going commercial rate.’