Libya: Tony Blair and Col Gaddafi’s secret meetings
New questions over Tony Blair’s ties to Col Muammar Gaddafi and his role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber have emerged from documents discovered in Tripoli.
Mr Blair was flown to Libya twice at Gaddafi’s expense on one of the former dictator’s private jets Photo: GETTY By Colin Freeman, in Tripoli and Robert Mendick, Chief Reporter
8:30PM BST 17 Sep 2011
The letters and emails, found by The Sunday Telegraph, show Mr Blair held secret talks with Gaddafi in the months before Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was freed from a British jail.
He was flown to Libya twice at Gaddafi’s expense on one of the former dictator’s private jets – visiting the him in June 2008 and April 2009, when Libya was threatening to cut all business links if Megrahi stayed in a British jail.
The disclosure of the meetings – of which Mr Blair makes no mention on his various websites – prompted calls by relatives of Lockerbie victims for Mr Blair to make public all his dealings with Gaddafi and his regime. Mr Blair even brought an American billionaire to one of the meetings. Sources say the financier was asked by Gaddafi for help in building beach resorts on the Libyan coast.
In the correspondence, Mr Blair’s private office refers to Gaddafi deferentially as “The Leader”. Pam Dix, whose brother died in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie on Dec 21 1988, said yesterday: “The idea of Gaddafi paying for Mr Blair’s visit is deeply offensive.
“These new meetings between Mr Blair and Gaddafi are disturbing, and details of what was discussed should now be made public. I am astonished Tony Blair continued to have meetings like this out of office.”
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Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, said: “Mr Blair is clearly using his Downing Street contacts to further his business interests.”
The meetings took place at a time of intense negotiations with Gaddafi’s regime over the release of Megrahi, convicted of murdering 270 people in the single biggest terrorist atrocity committed in Britain.
The bomber, who has cancer, was finally released in August 2009 after doctors wrongly gave him just three months to live.
Mr Blair has always denied involvement in Megrahi’s release – saying it was a decision taken by the Scottish Executive alone. Last night a spokesman admitted Megrahi’s release was raised by Gaddafi.
Mr Blair has refused to make public the full extent of his meetings in Libya since leaving office in June 2007.
The emails and letters – between Mr Blair’s office, the British ambassador in Tripoli and the Libyan ambassador in London – raise concern over possible conflicts of interest regarding his varied roles as Middle East peace envoy, philanthropist and business consultant.
The documents will also add fuel to suggestions made last year by Gaddafi’s son, Saif, that Mr Blair had advisory links to the Libyan government and the Libyan Investment Authority, which controls a £41 billion fund.
Mr Blair has categorically denied the connection.
The documents outline arrangements for the trips in 2008 and 2009. Mr Blair also held a further private meeting with Gaddafi in June 2010 after Megrahi’s release.
In both 2008 and 2009, the documents show Mr Blair negotiated to fly to the Libyan capital from Sierra Leone, in a jet provided by Gaddafi.
In 2008, Mr Blair, having met Gaddafi, arranged to fly on to Luton on a Libyan jet.
The first letter was sent on notepaper headed Office of the Quartet Representative, Mr Blair’s title as a Middle East peace envoy, which he took up after resigning as prime minister in June 2007.
The letter, written on June 2, 2008, was sent to Omar Jelban, Libya’s ambassador to Britain. It was written by Gavin Mackay, who was based at Mr Blair’s London office in Grosvenor Square, and stated: “Let me begin my [sic] saying that Mr Blair is delighted that The Leader is likely to be able to see him during the afternoon of 10 June and he is most grateful that the Libyan authorities have kindly offered an aircraft to take him from Freetown to Tripoli and back to London.”
The letter continues: “In addition to a call on The Leader, he [Blair] would welcome the opportunity to have a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Assistant Secretary Dr Abd-al-Hafid Mahm-jud al-Zulaytini, who he has met in the past.” Mr Zulaytini was one of Libya’s most powerful men and a former chairman of the state-owned National Oil Company.
Details of the 2009 meeting are contained in an exchange of emails between Victoria Gould, who was Mr Blair’s events organiser, and Sir Vincent Fean, the former British ambassador to Libya. The correspondence shows Tim Collins, a billionaire friend of Mr Blair, attended the meeting with Gaddafi.
Miss Gould wrote to Sir Vincent on March 31 to say that an audience with Gaddafi was “looking positive”, adding: “If we were able to stay at the Residence I know TB would be really grateful (as would we all).”
The email gives flight details and a plea that the group “need wheels” to return to the airport in Tripoli in time for the flight back to London. Three hours later, Sir Vincent replied: “Just to confirm the residence is at your disposal.”
A week later on April 7, 2009, Miss Gould confirms the visit is going ahead. “We have asked the Libyans to collect us from Sierra Leone and bring us to Libya,” wrote Miss Gould.
She then provides a list of people staying with the ambassador – including herself, Mr Blair, and Catherine Rimmer, a former Downing Street adviser and now Mr Blair’s strategic director.
The rest of the group, including several police officers, Mr Collins – described by Miss Gould as a “very successful investor and philanthropist” — and Mr Blair’s official spokesman Matthew Doyle stayed at the Corinthia Hotel, where rooms typically cost about £300 a night.
The email goes on: “In terms of calls, if you could note that TB would like to do the following: a meeting with the Leader (partly 1:1 and partly with Tim Collins) Then the following meetings with TB starting them on his own and then Tim Collins joining: Abdulhafeed Zlitney, Mohammed Lyas, Africa development Fund (incl Zarti?)” Mr Zlitney is thought to be an alternative spelling of Mr Zulaytini; Mr Lyas refers to Mohammed Layas, the head of the Libyan Investment Authority; while “Zarti” is thought to be Mustafa Zarti, the deputy head of the investment authority.
According to the email, Mr Doyle and four police officers flew back to London on a scheduled British Airways flight while the rest of the party left on Mr Collins’ ‘private charter’. Mr Collins had flown separately from the US.
The 2009 meeting occurred a day after Britain signed a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, just one of several steps paving the way for Megrahi’s release from jail.
In June 2008, there was already growing clamour in Libya for Megrahi’s release.
Mr Blair has made a fortune since leaving Downing Street through speaking engagements and consultancy deals largely set up in the Middle East and the US. His personal wealth is estimated at anywhere between £20 million and £60 million.
He is also paid about £2.5 million a year by JP Morgan, a US investment bank which has a number of business interests in Libya. A spokesman for Mr Blair said last night: “The subjects of the conversations during Mr Blair’s occasional visits was primarily Africa, as Libya was for a time head of the African Union; but also the Middle East and how Libya should reform and open up.
“Of course the Libyans, as they always did, raised Megrahi. Mr Blair explained, as he always did, in office and out of it, that it was not a decision for the UK government but for the Scottish Executive.”
The spokesman added: “Tim Collins accompanied Mr Blair on one visit. No business deals of any nature were discussed.
“At the time, governments around the world were engaging with Libya.
“There was therefore at that time no reason whatsoever for not continuing to engage with him, especially since Mr Blair in office had been responsible for getting Gaddafi to give up his chemical and nuclear weapons programme and renounce terrorism.
“As we have made clear many times before, Tony Blair has never had any role, either formal or informal, paid or unpaid, with the Libyan Investment Authority or the Government of Libya and he has no commercial relationship with any Libyan company or entity.”
A source close to Mr Blair said he had never used Gaddafi’s personal jet but had used a Libyan government plane.
A spokesman for Mr Collins, who made his fortune in Japan, said last night: “Tim was asked to go by Tony Blair in his position as a trustee of Mr Blair’s US faith foundation. Tim had no intention of doing any business with Gaddafi.”
Sources in Libya said Gaddafi had discussed with Mr Collins opening beach resorts along the Libyan coast but that Mr Collins had dismissed the idea because the Libyans would not sanction the sale of alcohol or gambling at the resorts.
The source said: “Blair and Collins didn’t get anything for their faith foundation and Mr Collins made it clear he didn’t want to do business in Libya and considered Gaddafi crazy.”
BLAIR EX GEN SEC OF THE FABIAN SOCIETY!
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31 seconds agoThese are really ‘muddy waters’.
IMO, if a politician uses his connections AFTER he leaves government in ALL forms, then that is their look out – good luck to them.
What really p****s me off is did they form or shape UK policy while they were in power to set their personal agenda (meaning did they deliberately pave the way for their ‘After Dinner’ circuit)?
I don’t want to make a judgement call, but at the very least we should have a public enquiry to ascertain to what extent this is the case here? Report Recommend
33 seconds agoMooncat, the depth to which TB will plummet in his extraordinary megalomaniacal mission have not yet been sounded.
Not surprized to find out that there are even more lies he has told all and sundry… Surely the Catholic doctrine to which he apparently now subscribes has something to say about it..
(Oh yes… there are these 10 lines which God wrote on some stone tablets for Moses to give to the wandering Israelites…. One of them distinctly said “Thou shalt bear no false witness”
There are a whole lot of other dogmatic points.. Thou shalt not kill comes into it and whether it is 10, 10 000, 100 000 or a million Iraqis Blair bore false witness to give the commands that led to their deaths.
Now of course we come to the 7 Deadly sins… Avarice and greed spring to mind here…
Shall I go on. Not sure what God thinks about this lot but, Mr Tony Blair, I know what I and a lot of my compatriots think.
And at the day of Judgement it is you who must face your maker and no amount of spin and deceipt will save you then.
2 minutes agoBirds of a feather…
Except Tony Blair is a war criminal as well as a former dictator. Report Recommend
7 minutes agoRecommended by
4 peopleI suppose it`s easy to say with hind sight, but Bliars` past is like an old coffin, the older the box, the more it leaks, and what`s inside is not very nice. Report Recommend
9 minutes agoRecommended by
2 peopleIll say it again, Blair..if you are reading all these comments then you must be feeling icy cold with fear. And why not, indeed. Let me tell you that the creeping horror will grow and grow and you will realise that you, by your devious, unprincipled, selfish and vainglorious acts (of treachery) have earned you your own personal hell here on earth. A hell that will slowly but surely engulf you in unbroken terror, day after day, night after night. There will be no escape. The haunting will drive you mad. Remember, nowhere to run. There IS no escape. Ever. Report Recommend
12 minutes agoRecommended by
2 peopleAS far as I am concerned, we, the Brits and the US should have ousted Gadaffi as soon as they knew for sure that he was responsible for the PAN AM atrocity. The whole situation stinks. I suppose it’s all about oil and money at the end of the day. Report Recommend
4 seconds agoYes, Magdelane.
It is strange that London’s political elite cavort with Gaddafi’s family, and yet there is no justice for the families of the dead: Pan Am, Yvonne Fletcher, the good Armed Forces who even now die in the Middle East and that AF/PAK abomination which serves tribal warlords, despots and drug dealers…including the Western elite in politics whose own sons stay safe at home, and reap the rewards…just as Gaddafi and the other desert despot’s families do. Report Recommend
9 minutes agoThey are after something besides oil. Report Recommend
16 minutes agoRecommended by
6 peopleMaybe we should have a British spring!!
Ever wondered why gun controls are so strict in Britain, It’s got nothing to do with the odd lunatic or bank robber, the Westminster Mafia are petrified of a revolution. Report Recommend
18 minutes agoRecommended by
4 peopleWhat annoys me is the security this country gives to Blair it costs millions a year.
With his smarmy ways and almost putting England into third world standing he should foot the bill himself he and Cherry between them are the countries best con artists.
Vince Cable get a grip of these two first to get your pet mission underway before dropping on our hard working inventers etc. who made money honestly
8 minutes agoEcko, You seem to forget, they ALL pee in the same pot!. Report Recommend
19 minutes agoRecommended by
5 peopleBlair should be tried for high treason. Report Recommend
14 minutes agoRecommended by
2 peopleBlair rescinded the law of treason. Now we see why.
He is most charming, an affable fellow, much like Mandelson.
Pity they decided to charm snakes instead of do best for their countrymen.
Hey ho. They will be rewarded handsomely for their betrayal, serving the bankster warmongers, the Internationale…much as Brown does for less pay. Report Recommend
20 minutes agoRecommended by
6 peopleWhenever I see or hear B-Liar lately, I am convinced he knows the game is up, and that he knows that we know just what a lying, cheating, unprincipled scumbag he has been throughout his premiership and beyond. You only had to hear the cracked-voiced rebuttal during the Humphries interview on R4, to realise that he is finally succumbing to the 0200 in the morning terrors as his conscience finally gets the better of him and destroys his sleep!
There’ll be more of these stories down the years to come – his road to perdition seems inevitable, despite his attempts to rewrite history, in his book.
Truly: a fungal infection on the armpit of a nation!!! Report Recommend
17 minutes agoRecommended by
2 peopleDoc, He has been looking quite worried over the last few years and yes it is getting worse!, I feel there is only one way out for the poor sod, South America!. Report Recommend
29 minutes agoRecommended by
9 peopleThe stench is getting stronger.
What a shyster Blair is. I am so glad I never once voted for him. Report Recommend
29 minutes agoRecommended by
10 peopleThe saddest thing for me is not that Bliar used ‘realpolitik’ the term others have used here to defend him,(and remember where that term originated and under whom before being so comfortable with it!) but that he really has been the single element that has completely destroyed trust in the political class and as such heavily damaged democratic thinking.
The man is an obscenity and should be seen as such by all.
J.P. Morgan should be punished for their support of this man, and quite how he can be seen as a benefit in PR terms or any other to a so-called ‘respectable’ company defeats me. Or maybe JPM are not as respectable either? Report Recommend
26 minutes agoRecommended by
8 peopleI think JPM are just using Blair for access to Blair’s friends like Gaddafi for their own pecuniary ends. Blair has always been a tool for the rich and famous and this would seem a natural position for him now. Report Recommend
30 minutes agoRecommended by
6 peopleSorry. Deleted by me because disqus has lost the plot as usual! Report Recommend
32 minutes agoRecommended by
2 people”A source close to Mr Blair said he had never used Gaddafi’s personal jet but had used a Libyan government plane” – just how naive is Blair? Gaddafi’s owned the government therefore it was his wretched plane. Who was the “source”? Alistair Cambell do doubt. Report Recommend
18 minutes agoRecommended by
1 person “A source close to Mr Blair said he had…” it does not say “”A source close to Mr Blair said Mr Blair had…”. The first subject of the sentence is the person described as “a source close to” and the pronoun belongs to the first subject. I quoted the same sentence earlier and made reference to The People’s Princess, because she used to meet journalists “off the record” and be quoted as “a source close to Princess Dianna”.
Asked if he had used Qadaffi’s private jet, “a source close to” said “[a source close to] hadn’t been a guest in Qadaffi’s jet, it was a jet owned by the dictator’s government!” When grasping for straws of denial that little difference will be seized by any lawyer. Report Recommend
1 minute agoVery good! Correct, and interesting example of the slipperiness of language used by these fork-tongued snakes.
Alas I suspect that it was probably intended to mean what fairbridge and many others have read it to mean.
Most people aren’t that bright, especially when it comes to grammar. Report Recommend
33 minutes agoRecommended by
2 people put Blair up on war crimes. oh I forge the labour party, liberals and tories will never set that precedent as it will affect them all. slime bags, one and all Report Recommend
28 minutes agoRecommended by
3 peopleI agree…
lib/lab/con is a trifecta of fraud…
UKIP or BNP are my choices. Report Recommend
33 minutes agoRecommended by
5 peopleI never believed Blair was an intelligent person just a little smarter than the other Labour people so it didn’t take much for him to be elected as leader. When he came to power it was clear he was adept in the art of the dark side for his own benefit. These recovered emails clearly identify his close connections with both Libya and Gadaffi. He has conspired against the British and American people to release the Lockerbie bomber for his own ends. Many will now refer to him as a traitor. An appeaser for his eight pieces of gold coins. He is clearly untrustworthy as this article identifies Blair has never declared his closeness with this regime in any of his web sites or books. Blair being Blair he will attempt to spin his way out of this one because if he admits his connections he has conspired with a terrorist state who murdered and slaughtered their own people. This is nothing other than a despicable interlude in British politics