Tony Blair ‘Caught Riding Without a Ticket’

An awkward moment for Tony Blair on his way across the pond Monday.

Tony Blair ‘Caught Riding Without a Ticket’ Photo The Daily Mail has reported that former prime minister Tony Blair, seen here in 2004, was left red-faced when he was caught travelling on a train without a ticket and said he had no cash to pay the fare.(AFP/POOL/File/Max Nash) Former prime minister Tony Blair was left red-faced when he was caught travelling on a train without a ticket and said he had no cash to pay the fare, a report said on Wednesday.

Blair, who has earned around 500,000 pounds on the speaking circuit since leaving office in June, was confronted by a ticket inspector as he travelled to Heathrow airport to catch a flight to the United States on Monday, the Daily Mail newspaper reported. He said he had no cash for the 24.50 pounds fare because money an aide had given him was no longer in his pocket. The newspaper, quoting Blair’s spokesman, said his bodyguard offered to pay the ticket, but the inspector said he could travel for free.

A good call, I think, by the inspector. I mean, when a guy has “The Right Honorable” immediately in front of his name you really should cut him some slack.

While I’m sure Blair conducted other business while here, he was in town to accept the 2008 Distinguished International Leader Award from the Atlantic Council Monday, and I had the privilege of sitting in on his afternoon press conference and hearing his speech that evening. (You can read the speech here. A video will be up shortly.) Blair was introduced by José María Aznar who, in turn, was introduced by Colin Powell.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MichaelB says:

    I bet this happens surprisingly often. Heads of state, among other things, don’t often carry their wallets with them. After breaking the habit for a few years, I can easily see making the mistake from time to time in private life.

  2. Triumph says:

    I doubt it happens often–since most people of Tony’s wealth and stature don’ ride public transport. I’ll give Blair credit for keeping his carbon foot print down by taking the train rather than a limo. I remember even as Prime Minister, he flew commercial airlines while on personal business. By the way, James, does Anzar still have that creepy moustache?

  3. James Joyner says:

    The ‘stache isn’t noticeable from any distance but the Reuters photo of the event published by the Daily Mail captures it. I’ll leave characterizations to the reader.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Triumph: The Heathrow Express is not only 1/3-1/2 cheaper than a limo, it takes 1/3-1/2 the time. The A4, the main route west from London, is not a nice piece of roadwork. It runs through those ‘villages’ that comprise Greater London and there are traffic circles and stop lights along a good portion of it.

    The Express serves all four (maybe now, all five) Heathrow terminals, so it’s actually very convenient. It runs from Paddington Station, with (depending on the time) a stop in Hanwell and sometimes Southhall, but usually it’s non-stop.

    It’s cheaper yet (and more fuel-efficient) to travel by the Metropolitan Line of the Underground, but that stops everywhere and is usually packed to the brim with tourists and students heading to/from the airport as well as the normal commuters.

    The Gatwick Express is also great for those using that airport. Not cheap, but far better than the alternatives. Gatwick to Victoria Station in about 20 minutes.

  5. Triumph says:

    Yeah, John–I’ve taken it many times. The last time I lucked out–with the weak US peso I was short on cash and was planning to take the Tube out to Heathrow, but they were doing track work and gave airport-goers a free ride on the Express instead.

    The only disadvantage was that I was unable to get my deposit back on the Oyster Card–which rests, to this day, useless in my wallet.