Nabila Ramdani, Tim Shipman and Tom Leonard – Daily Mail February 25, 2011
Tony Blair is still a ‘good friend’ of the Libyan dictatorship and should broker a deal to keep it in power, according to a son of Colonel Gaddafi.
A close ally of Saif Gaddafi last night urged the former prime minister to help put his country on a ‘stable footing’.
The Tripoli-based official told the Mail: ‘Tony Blair was attending meetings with the Brother Leader until last year.
‘He is peacemaker in the Middle East, and should be able to use his talents for peacemaking here. We need his diplomatic skills now as we set about crushing our enemies.
‘It is time for the international community to bring peace to Libya and Tony Blair could be at the forefront of this process. Tony Blair is a good friend who would put the country on a stable footing.’
The official is a senior figure in the Libyan regime and is very close to Saif. The Mail is not identifying him for security reasons.
His astonishing intervention came as MPs and critics of Mr Blair warned he could be severely embarrassed if the Gaddafi regime imploded.
Lockerbie families warned he would be left with a ‘dirty bib’ when full details of the business deals between Libya and Western companies, some of which were engineered by Mr Blair, are revealed.
In 2004, the former PM brought Gaddafi in from the cold by signing the notorious ‘Deal in the Desert’, which saw British firms such as BP sign massive contracts with the Libyans.
His visit led to negotiations over a prisoner transfer agreement that ultimately paved the way for the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al Megrahi.
Last year the Daily Mail revealed how Mr Blair was making secret visits to Tripoli to advise Gaddafi.
Saif, the dictator’s British-educated second son, claimed in an interview that the former prime minister was a friend of the regime. He even suggested that Mr Blair was a consultant to the Libyan Investment Authority, the sovereign fund responsible for the country’s £50billion in oil wealth – something Mr Blair has denied.
Since he left Downing Street, Mr Blair has received fees of up to £2million a year as an adviser to JP Morgan, which has important business interests in Libya.
Asked yesterday if Mr Blair was in telephone or email contact with Colonel Gaddafi or any members of his entourage, the source said: ‘If he was it would be a secret. Their recent negotiations have all been a secret
Critics of Mr Blair said he had a duty to try to salvage some good from his close links with the Gaddafi family.
Frank Duggan, who represents American victims of the Lockerbie bombing, leapt on claims by Libya’s former justice minister that Gaddafi personally ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.
Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jalil told a Swedish newspaper he had proof ‘that Gaddafi gave the order about Lockerbie’.
Mr Duggan told the Mail: ‘It’s what we have always thought. I do think it would be helpful for Tony Blair to help mediate this situation. We are upset with Tony Blair over the deals he has made with Libya and we remain upset with him. But nevertheless, if he can help, he should do so as the Libyan people try to take their country back from this dreadful family.’
Mr Duggan warned: ‘There are going to be great revelations coming out. It will be just like it was in East Germany when the Stasi secret police files were released. There are a lot of people who are going to have dirty bibs before this is out.’
Daniel Kawczynski, the Tory chairman of the parliamentary all-party Libya group, says he will use parliamentary privilege next week to raise questions about how much money Mr Blair has made from his links to Libya.
A spokesman for Mr Blair refused to say whether he was prepared to act as an international mediator.
‘Tony Blair does not and has never had any sort of commercial relationship or any sort of advisory role with any member of the Gaddafi family, the Government of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority nor any Libyan companies,’ he added.
‘The pictures from Libya have been shocking and appalling. Such violence is totally unacceptable and that is why there is an urgent need for a process of political change.’
How the Ex-PM Ingratiated Himself With a Tyrant For Personel Gain
DEAL IN THE DESERT
Tony Blair tried to improve the West’s links with Libya with a controversial visit in 2004 when he met Colonel Gaddafi in a Bedouin tent.
The then Labour prime minister clasped hands with the dictator and proclaimed a ‘new relationship’ had been struck with the pariah state.
The Libyan leader told him: ‘You look good, you are still young.’ Mr Blair later said of Gaddafi: ‘It is a very good relationship. He’s very easy to deal with. There is nothing I have ever agreed with him should be done that hasn’t happened.’
As the pair met, Shell announced it had signed a deal worth up to £550million for gas exploration off the Libyan coast.
TERRORISTS FOR TRADE
In May 2007, Mr Blair again travelled to Libya and helped seal a deal for BP. The oil giant returned to Libya for a deal that is now worth around £900million, more than 30 years after its assets had been nationalised by Gaddafi’s regime. Mr Blair also helped secure defence contracts for two British firms worth £350million.
But as part of the deal, Gaddafi demanded a prisoner transfer agreement to pave the way for the return of the Lockerbie bomber to Tripoli.
The controversial release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was officially made by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds in August 2009.
A month earlier, the Libyan Investment Authority opened a new office in London and leaked diplomat cables have revealed that Mr Blair’s government wanted Megrahi released.
Saif Gaddafi has also said Megrahi’s release was ‘always on the negotiating table’ in discussions about ‘commercial contracts for oil and gas with Britain’.
The former justice secretary Jack Straw said trade was ‘a very big part’ of the 2007 talks that led to the prisoner deal with Libya.
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son of the dictator, claimed that Tony Blair had become a ‘close, personal friend’ of his family and acted as an adviser to the regime’s oil wealth fund.
He claimed Mr Blair had a consultancy role with the Libyan Investment Authority – a claim which Mr Blair has denied.
Saif told the Mail that Mr Blair had visited the country ‘many, many times’ since leaving Downing Street and was involved in African projects with his father.
In July last year, just weeks after denying he had close links to Libya, Mr Blair was flown to the country for secret talks with Colonel Gaddafi.
He was ‘entertained as a brother’ a senior Libyan government source told the Mail, and offered Colonel Gaddafi a great deal of ‘invaluable advice’.
THE JP MORGAN JOB
In January 2008, Mr Blair accepted a position as a consultant to the American bank JP Morgan Chase. He is understood to be paid about £2 million a year for his part-time consultancy work. The bank and its asset management arm are also members of the Libyan British Business Council, a lobby group set up to secure big money deals with the desert dictatorship.
Mr Blair’s close ally Lord Mandelson also has links to the Libyan regime. He has rubbed shoulders with Saif Gaddafi at a shooting party hosted by Lord Rothschild in Buckinghamshire.
In 2009, the pair were entertained at the Corfu villa of Lord Rothschild. Until that year, Lord Rothschild, a close friend of Lord Mandelson, was an adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority.
As Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson signed a deal with Libya’s education minister for greater cooperation in higher education and research. Saif has described Lord Mandelson as a ‘killer of a man’.
MIDDLE EAST ENVOY
Mr Blair has been criticised for using his role as a Middle East peace envoy to open doors for his business interests. In addition to his work with JP Morgan, he is an adviser to the insurance company Zurich. He has also set up his own private consulting firm, Tony Blair Associates, which is run by his old chief of staff Jonathan Powell. The firm’s clients include the government of Kuwait and the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.
Mr Blair has reportedly met with the leaders of both Kuwait and Abu Dhabi in his official capacity and then conducted private business in separate meetings during the same trips