Tony Blair waged an extraordinary two-year battle to keep secret a lucrative deal with a multinational oil giant which has extensive interests in Iraq.
The former Prime Minister tried to keep the public in the dark over his dealings with South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation.
Mr Blair – who has made at least £20million since leaving Downing Street in June 2007 – also went to great efforts to keep hidden a £1million deal advising the ruling royal family in Iraq’s neighbour Kuwait.
In an unprecedented move, he persuaded the committee which vets the jobs of former ministers to keep details of both deals from the public for 20 months, claiming it was commercially sensitive. The deals emerged yesterday when the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments finally lost patience with Mr Blair and decided to ignore his objections and publish the details.
News of the secret deals fuelled fresh accusations that Mr Blair is ‘cashing in on his contacts’ from the controversial Iraq war in what one MP called ‘revolving door politics at its worst’.
They will increase concerns that Mr Blair is using his role as the West’s Middle East envoy for personal gain.
The revelations also shed fresh light on his astonishing earnings, which include lucrative after-dinner speaking, consultancies with banks and foreign governments, a generous advance for his forthcoming memoirs, as well as the pension and other perks he enjoys as a former Prime Minister.
Secret contracts, shady oil deals, foreign multinationals, Middle Eastern rulers and a former prime minister whose cosy relationship with the U.S. was bought with the blood of British soldiers.
Not, sadly, the plot of a racy novel but the true story of Tony Blair after Downing Street (though don’t expect to read it in his impending £4.6million memoirs).
For nearly two years, Mr Blair has been trying to suppress the truth about his advice to a South Korean company that was working on an oil deal in Iraq, and to the Kuwaiti government.Now Whitehall’s business appointments committee has insisted on transparency, but Mr Blair still won’t explain exactly what services he is providing.
This is deeply troubling. Mr Blair’s greatest commercial asset is his close relationship with America, where many laud him for his support for their wars.
He is profiting from taking Britain into a war in Iraq that much of his country was dead set against, and doing so on the false premise that we were under threat from weapons of mass destruction.
No less profoundly disturbing is the way in which Mr Blair is using his official role as Middle East Envoy to drum up business in the region.
This is doing further damage to his own tainted image, but far worse than that it’s undermining Britain’s already tattered international reputation.
Thanks to Mr Blair we are associated with torture, with the abuse of prisoners, with an invasion under false pretences.
Now we must watch while our former leader prostitutes himself for money.
Mr Blair owes it to himself, and to the millions who voted for him, to stop demeaning the great office he once held.