Now Tony and Cherie Blair jet off on five weeks of luxury freebies
By Sam Greenhill and Richard Shears
Last updated at 12:44 PM on 30th July 2008
Tony and Cherie Blair have arrived in Malaysia for the start of five weeks of freebie holidays in the sun.
The couple, who flew first class from London, yesterday enjoyed a quiet stroll through a butterfly park in Penang.
The Star picture of Tony and Cherie Blair strolling at Penang's butterfly park under a watchful security of the Unit Tindakan Khas
Ahead of them are days of luxury on a beautiful island before they head off to Beijing for the Olympics and then wind down on a private yacht in the Mediterranean.
It is, admittedly, a change from their traditional freebie summer at Sir Cliff Richard's villa in Barbados.
But, as is customary, it is likely that the Blairs will still be enjoying the hospitality of rich friends.
Their three youngest children, Nicky, Kathryn and Leo, Mrs Blair's mother Gale, Leo's nanny and Mrs Blair's personal assistant Angela Goodchild are with them on the holiday.
Some are understood to have been upgraded on the flight.
'Team Blair' was yesterday soaking up the sun ahead of Friday, when Mr Blair is making a high-profile speech to lawyers in the capital city Kuala Lumpur.
Despite being able to command a hefty fee for his appearance, Mr Blair's spokesman insisted he was giving his services for free at the prestigious Sultan Azlan Shaw law lecture.
But the spokesman refused to be drawn on whether, if not being directly paid, the Blairs were getting a free holiday from the Sultan, who is part of Malaysia's royal family.
Mr Blair's speech to Malaysia's judges and lawyers, on the subject of the rule of law and good governance, has been shrouded in secrecy.
The lecture is being organised by the University of Malaya, which yesterday refused to comment.
After the lecture, it is understood the Blairs are flying by private jet to one of the palm-fringed islands around Malaysia to be pampered in luxury accommodation courtesy of their host.
Now he is out of Downing Street, Mr Blair is not obliged to reveal whether his latest break is a freebie or being paid for.
After their Malaysian break, the Blairs will fly to Beijing to watch the Olympics. Both Mr Blair and his wife were pivotal in London being awarded the event in 2012.
But the former PM will not be at the closing ceremony on August 24, which is being attended by his successor Gordon Brown.
He leaves a day earlier to spend a couple of days back in the UK before setting off to France for the next stage of his holiday.
It is expected the Blairs will be the guests of Bernard Arnault, who hosted them last year on board his yacht Amadeus.
He is the world's seventh-richest man and owns the Moet and Krug champagne brands. Sources said Mr Arnault is preparing his yacht to host friends and celebrities during August.
Asked about the Blairs staying, a spokesman for Mr Arnault said: 'We do not discuss such matters.'
It has been estimated that a decade of 'freebie' holidays in the homes of the rich would have cost Mr Blair £775,000.
As well as Sir Cliff 's villa, the family have holidayed in the homes of Bee Gee Robin Gibb and Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Last night Mr Blair's spokesman said: 'I am not going to comment on their private holiday arrangements.'
Great host aren't we for a lying war criminal?
Tahun meliwat Malaysia.