As a means of analysing the stability of the wake behind a multi-bladed rotor the stability of a multiplicity of helical vortices embedded in an assigned flow field is addressed. In the model the tip vortices in the far wake are approximated by infinitely long helical vortices with constant pitch and radius. The work is a further development of a model developed in Okulov (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 521, p. 319) in which the linear stability of N equally azimuthally spaced helical vortices was considered. In the present work the analysis is extended to include an assigned vorticity field due to root vortices and the hub of the rotor. Thus the tip vortices are assumed to be embedded in an axisymmetric helical vortex field formed from the circulation of the inner part of the rotor blades and the hub. As examples of inner vortex fields we consider three generic axial columnar helical vortices, corresponding to Rankine, Gaussian and Scully vortices, at radial extents ranging from the core radius of a tip vortex to several rotor radii. The analysis shows that the stability of tip vortices largely depends on the radial extent of the hub vorticity as well as on the type of vorticity distribution. As part of the analysis it is shown that a model in which the vortex system is replaced by N tip vortices of strength Γ and a root vortex of strength −NΓ is unconditionally unstable.