Tony Blair facing parliamentary probe over secret meetings with Gaddafi
Tony Blair is facing a parliamentary investigation into his close relationship with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
By Robert Mendick, Chief Reporter
8:45PM BST 08 Oct 2011
Senior MPs are demanding that Mr Blair reveal all details of his private meetings with the dictator since leaving Downing Street.
The move follows revelations in The Sunday Telegraph that Mr Blair had at least six meetings with Gaddafi since quitting as prime minister.
Five of those meetings took place in a 14 month period prior to the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber sent back to Tripoli to serve out the rest of his prison sentence in the comfort of his own home.
On at least two occasions Mr Blair and his sizeable entourage flew to Tripoli on a private jet paid for by the Gaddafi regime at a cost of about £150,000.
One meeting in January 2009 has been linked to a multi-billion dollar deal between the Libyans and a Russian company being put together by JP Morgan, the US bank which pays Mr Blair about £2 million a year as a senior adviser.
Richard Ottaway, the Tory chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said members this week decide if it should launch an investigation into Mr Blair’s dealings in Libya.
Mr Ottaway said: “Whether to have a look at this is something the foreign affairs committee will be considering in the next week or so.”
It is understood the committee intends to write to Mr Blair requesting details of his numerous meetings. The Sunday Telegraph pieced together the meetings from leaked emails and other sources.
In a separate development, Daniel Kawczynski, the Tory chairman of the Commons all party committee on Libya, has written to David Cameron requesting a formal investigation into Mr Blair’s relationship with Gaddafi.
In his letter, Mr Kawczynski said the inquiry “would ascertain how many visits were made, the duration of those visits and what the stated purpose of those visits were”.
Mr Kawczynski said it was now vital that “archived information” from the Gaddafi regime be collected by the Government and examined to give a true picture of Mr Blair’s dealings with Libya both in and out of office.
Mr Kawczynski, who has written a biography of Gaddafi, said: “We need to get to the bottom of whether he was profiting in any way or involved in lucrative business associations.”
Mr Blair has so far refused to reveal details of his trips. But he vehemently denies any suggestions he played a part in the release of al-Megrahi and denies any knowledge of the deal JP Morgan was trying to pull off with the Libyan Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund in which Saif Gaddafi, one of the dictator’s sons, had a major influence. The deal subsequently fell through.
A spokesman for Mr Blair said last month when the Sunday Telegraph first made inquiries: “The subjects of the conversations [with Gaddafi] 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.”
The spokesman insisted that “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 not and has never had any commercial, business or advisory relationship with any Libyan company or entity.”