Report: Blair's Party Paid $13,700 For Wife's Hairstyling Bills

Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party spent $13,700 on hairstyling bills for his wife, Cherie, during last year's monthlong general election campaign, a newspaper reported Friday.

The party would not comment on the report's accuracy, but suggested there was nothing wrong with such expenditures.

"So what?" a Labour spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with party policy. "Mrs. Blair worked fantastically hard during the election. ... She is enormously popular with the party and, don't forget, we won the election."

The Times newspaper said the party had listed the styling bills as an election expense — $490-a-day for a month of campaigning — in its mandatory declaration to the Electoral Commission.

The commission declined to comment.

Cherie Blair, who uses the surname Booth in her professional life as a lawyer, has long had her hair done by Andre Suard, a stylist at the upscale Michaeljohn salon.

Tony Blair's official spokesman said the prime minister's wife paid for Suard herself whenever she brought him on official government trips. But he declined to comment on the report, saying party events that occurred during a campaign were a separate matter.

Because Britain does not have an official role equivalent to that of the U.S. first lady, prime ministers' spouses have to shoulder many costs associated with their position in the public eye.

Cherie Blair, whose clothing and appearance are often mocked by the British media, has been criticized in the past for her reliance on a pricey hairstylist.

Christopher Meyer, Britain's former ambassador to Washington, recalled in his recent memoir that the Blairs held up their Concorde's departure from Andrews Air Force base after a visit to Camp David because her hairstylist had been left behind.

"A helicopter brought him posthaste to Andrews as the rest of us kicked our heels," Meyer wrote.