Tory leader David Cameron accepted free flights so he could hold talks with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch on his luxury yacht off a Greek island, it was disclosed today.
The Independent reported that the Tory leader was flown by private jet to Santorini on August 16 where he joined Murdoch for drinks on his 184ft yacht, Rosehearty.
The Gulfstream IV belongs to public relations guru Matthew Freud who is married to Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth.
The Tories insisted Cameron had done nothing wrong and that the flights had been fully declared in the Register of Members’ Interests.
A spokeswoman said: “Everything in connection to August 16 has been fully and properly declared.”
Although Cameron registered the flights last month, until now nothing had been made public about his visit to Murdoch’s yacht.
The disclosure is likely to add fresh fuel to the controversy surrounding shadow chancellor George Osborne’s visit to the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska on his yacht off Corfu.
Osborne has denied claims by the financier, Nat Rothschild, that he used the visit to try to solicit a £50,000 donation for Tory party funds, although he has admitted he was present when a possible donation by Deripaska was discussed.
In the case of Cameron, it has emerged that his wife, Samantha, and two of their children were with Freud’s party on his jet when it left Farnborough for the Mediterranean.
The aircraft then stopped off in Istanbul to pick up the Tory leader – who was returning from a lightning visit to Georgia following the Russian military incursion – before flying on to Santorini.
Following drinks on the Rosehearty, Cameron and his family attended a dinner party hosted by Freud on his yacht, Elisabeth F.
Afterwards the Camerons were flown on the Gulfstream to Dalaman in Turkey where they joined Mrs Cameron’s family for a sailing holiday to mark the 60th birthday of her mother, Viscountess Astor.
Meanwhile, according to The Independent, the Rosehearty sailed on to Corfu where Murdoch held an on-board birthday party for his daughter, Elisabeth.
The guests were said to include Osborne, Deripaska, and Peter Mandelson, then still the EU trade commissioner.
Cameron’s latest entry in the Register of Members’ Interests declared: “16 August 2008, private plane from Farnborough to Istanbul for my wife and two children. Then from Istanbul to Santorini, and return to Dalaman, for myself, my wife and two children; provided by Matthew Freud, of London.”