IRA victims plan to sue Tony Blair over Libya ‘conniving’

Tony Blair faces threat of legal action over allegation he helped Colonel   Gaddafi over court case that led to British terror victims losing out on   compensation deal

Tony Blair with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Tony Blair with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2007. Photo: PETER MACDIARMID/AFP

By , and Robert Mendick

9:05PM GMT 25 Jan 2014

Tony Blair is facing the threat of legal action over his alleged intervention   in a multi-million pound compensation claim by British victims of IRA   terrorism.

Lawyers for around 200 victims say the former prime minister and other   government officials appeared to have “connived” with Colonel Muammar   Gaddafi to block their claim against the Libyan regime that supplied Semtex   for the attacks. Continue reading “IRA victims plan to sue Tony Blair over Libya ‘conniving’”

British man sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan

A Pakistani court has passed the death sentence on a British national with mental health problems

Pakistan's tough blasphemy laws have attracted criticism from rights groups, who say they are frequently abused to settle personal scores

Pakistan’s tough blasphemy laws have attracted criticism from rights groups, who say they are frequently abused to settle personal scores Photo: AP

By AFP

1:13PM GMT 24 Jan 2014

A court in Pakistan has sentenced a British man to death for blasphemy for claiming to be a prophet of Islam, a prosecutor and police said Friday.

Mohammad Asghar, a British national of Pakistani origin, was arrested in 2010 in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, for writing letters claiming to be a prophet, police said. Continue reading “British man sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan”

Victor Dahdaleh corruption case collapses

 

Tom Harper

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A major anti-corruption trial brought by the Serious Fraud Office collapsed today following the intervention of the deputy prime minister of Bahrain and sudden withdrawal of key witnesses.

Billionaire Victor Dahdaleh — a Labour Party donor with ties to Tony Blair — was accused of paying more than £35 million in bribes to former managers at Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), the fourth-largest aluminium smelter in the world, in return for contracts worth more than £2 billion.

However, last week the court was told the deputy prime minister of Bahrain wrote to the head of the Serious Fraud Office and to the Attorney General, claiming all the payments made by Dahdaleh had been approved. Continue reading “Victor Dahdaleh corruption case collapses”

Lockerbie bomber release linked to arms deal, according to secret letter

The release of the Lockerbie bomber was linked by the Government to a £400 million arms-export deal to Libya, according to secret correspondence obtained by The Sunday Telegraph.

 

Tony Blair during one of his meetings with Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

Tony Blair during one of his meetings with Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  Photo: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/PA

By , and Edward Malnick

9:03PM BST 27 Jul 2013

An email sent by the then British ambassador in Tripoli details how a prisoner transfer agreement would be signed once Libya “fulfils its promise” to buy an air defence system.

The disclosure is embarrassing for members of the then Labour government, which always insisted that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s release was not linked to commercial deals.

The email, which contained a briefing on the UK’s relations with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, was sent on June 8 2008 by Sir Vincent Fean, the then UK ambassador, to Tony Blair’s private office, ahead of a visit soon after he stepped down as prime minister.

Mr Blair flew to Tripoli to meet Gaddafi on June 10, in a private jet provided by the dictator, one of at least six visits Mr Blair made to Libya after quitting Downing Street.

The briefing, which runs to 1,300 words, contains revealing details about how keen Britain was to do deals with Gaddafi. It also suggests that:

the UK made it a key objective for Libya to invest its £80  billion sovereign wealth fund through the City of London

the UK was privately critical of then President George Bush for “shooting the US in the foot” by continuing to put a block on Libyan assets in America, in the process scuppering business deals

the Department for International Development was eager to use another Libyan fund worth £130 million to pay for schemes in Sierra Leone and other poverty-stricken countries.

The release of Megrahi in August 2009 caused a huge furore, with the Government insisting he had been released on compassionate grounds because he was suffering from terminal cancer, and that the decision was taken solely by the Scottish government.

Megrahi had been convicted in 2001 of the murder of 270 people when PanAm flight 103 from London to New York blew up over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988. It remains Britain’s single worst terrorist atrocity.

Libya had been putting pressure on the UK to release Megrahi and in May 2007, just before he left Downing Street, Mr Blair travelled to Sirte to meet Gaddafi and Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, Libya’s then prime minister.

At that meeting, according to Sir Vincent’s email, Mr Blair and Mr Baghdadi agreed that Libya would buy the missile defence system from MBDA, a weapons manufacturer part-owned by BAE Systems. The pair also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA), which the Libyans believed would pave the way for Megrahi’s release.

The British government initially intended the agreement to explicitly exclude Megrahi. However, ministers relented under pressure from Libya.

In December 2007, Jack Straw, then justice secretary, told his Scottish counterpart that he had been unable to secure an exclusion, but said any application to transfer Megrahi under the agreement would still have to be signed off by Scottish ministers.

With Mr Blair returning in June 2008 — as a guest of Gaddafi on his private jet — the government appears to have used the chance to press its case for the arms deal to be sealed. At the time, Britain was on the brink of an economic and banking crisis, and Libya, through the Libyan Investment Authority, had billions of pounds in reserves.

Sir Vincent gave Mr Blair’s office a briefing on the state of relations with Libya. The email suggests that Mr Blair was being used as a conduit.

Sir Vincent wrote: “There is one bilateral issue which I hope TB [Tony Blair] can raise, as a legacy issue. On 29 May 07 in Sirte, he and Libya’s PM agreed that Libya would buy an air defence system (Jernas) from the UK (MBDA). One year on, MBDA are now back in Tripoli (since 8 June) aiming to agree and sign the contract now — worth £400 million, and up to 2,000 jobs in the UK.

“Saif [Gaddafi’s son] says they are to come back to conclude; but there is opposition within the Libyan armed forces, from those in the Russian defence equipment camp. We think we have Col Q’s [Gaddafi’s] goodwill for this contract: it would be very helpful if he expressed it more clearly. This issue can also be raised with Libya’s PM, and the Planning Minister. It was PM Baghdadi who told the media on 29 May 07 that Libya would buy British.

“Linked (by Libya) is the issue of the 4 bilateral Justice agreements about which TB signed an MoU with Baghdadi on 29 May. The MoU says they will be negotiated within the year: they have been. They are all ready for signature in London as soon as Libya fulfils its promise on Jernas.”

The PTA was signed in November 2008 by Bill Rammell, a foreign office minister.

Megrahi was diagnosed with prostate cancer and released in August 2009 on compassionate grounds when he was given three months to live. He died in May 2012.

The Libyans never signed the arms deal, MBDA said yesterday. “MBDA operates, at all times, strictly within the limits of clearly defined export licensing regimes issued by the relevant Government authorities,” a spokesman said.

“All MBDA’s dealings with Libya were purely commercial and in accordance with the EU directive at the time.”

The disclosure of the email, which was obtained by The Sunday Telegraph as a result of a Freedom of Information request, angered the relatives of victims of the bombing.

Pam Dix, whose brother Peter died at Lockerbie, said: “It appears from this email that the British government was making a clear correlation between arms dealing with Libya and the signing of the prisoner transfer agreement.

“We were told Megrahi’s release was a matter strictly for the Scottish government but this shows the dirty dealing that was going on behind the scenes.”

Lord Mandelson, who was business secretary when Megrahi was released, said he was unaware of any possible links between commercial deals and negotiations over a release.

He said: “Based on the information that I was given at the time, I made clear the government’s position. I was not aware of the correspondence covered in this FOI request.”

Jack Straw, who negotiated the PTA, said no deals were done over Megrahi, and it was always a decision for the Scottish government.

The email from Sir Vincent also informed Mr Blair on the latest stage of Megrahi’s bid for release, and urged him to fend off any demands that he be sent back. By 2008, Megrahi was appealing against his conviction for mass murder.

“Col Q may very well raise Megrahi,” wrote Sir Vincent, “Saif [Gaddafi’s son] raised the case … last week. It is now before the Scottish Appeal Court and sub-judice.

“While the appeal is current, no request to invoke the PTA can be made in that case. Were the appeal to fail and a request for Megrahi’s return to Libya were to be made subsequently, it would be for Scottish ministers to decide on any such request — not a question for HMG [Her Majesty’s Government].”

A spokesman for Mr Blair said that the prisoner transfer agreements did not relate to Megrahi. The email, he added, did not show “that the UK government was trying to link the defence deal and Megrahi”.

He said: “Actually it shows the opposite — that any linkage was from the Libyan side.

“As far as we’re aware there was no linkage on the UK side. What the email in fact shows is that, consistent with what we have always said, it was made clear to the then Libyan leader that the release of Megarahi was a matter for Scotland and was not a matter for Her Majesty’s Government.

“As we’ve said before, the subjects of the conversations during Mr Blair’s occasional visits was [sic] 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 [formerly the name for the Scottish government].”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10206659/Lockerbie-bomber-release-linked-to-arms-deal-according-to-secret-letter.html

 

Tony Blair strongly denies affair with Wendi Deng as outrageous rumours sweep the internet over reason behind Murdoch divorce

 

  • Rupert Murdoch filed for divorce in New York  Supreme Court on Thursday
  • Wendi Deng is Murdoch’s third wife – they  were together for 14 years
  • Pair were married in 1999 after meeting in  Hong Kong two years before
  • Previous divorce was one of the most  expensive in history at $1.7billion
  • The 82-year-old has two daughters with  Wendi, Grace and Chloe

By  Tom Leonard In New York

PUBLISHED: 12:56 EST, 14  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 18:16 EST, 14 June 2013

Unfounded: Aides for Tony Blair have emphatically denied outrageous Internet rumours that he was romantically involved with Wendi Deng 

Unfounded: Aides for Tony Blair have emphatically denied  outrageous Internet rumours that he was romantically involved with Wendi  Deng

Tony Blair was forced to deny internet  rumours yesterday linking him with the divorce of Rupert Murdoch and Wendi  Deng.

The internet was awash with unfounded  suggestions that the former PM may have been romantically involved with  44-year-old Miss Deng, who is a close friend.

The speculation followed a Twitter claim by  BBC business editor Robert Peston – who has close links with News Corporation  insiders – that he had been ‘told that  undisclosed reasons for Murdoch  divorcing his third wife are jaw-dropping and hate myself for wanting to know  what they are’.

The rumours are understood to have been  emphatically rejected by Blair aides as untrue and also as highly  defamatory.

A spokesman for Mr Blair, 60, told the  Hollywood Reporter: ‘If you are asking if they are having an affair, the answer  is no.’

The spokesman said the former PM would not be  making a public comment on the divorce himself.

With no explanation forthcoming from the  Murdoch camp, rumours started flying within hours of the news on Thursday that  the 82-year-old media tycoon had filed for divorce in a New York  court.

It is no secret that Miss Deng and Mr Blair  are close friends. He is godfather to Grace, her oldest child.

Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff described  him as ‘one of Wendi’s first  official social conquests’ and suggested that  Mr Blair had seen her as a key link in his efforts to woo her politically  powerful husband.

 

Third wife: Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng's marriage came less than a month after his divorce from ex-wife Anna Maria Torv Murdoch Mann was finalized, which was one of the most expensive in history at $1.7billion  

Divorce: Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng’s  marriage came less than a month after his divorce from ex-wife Anna Maria Torv  Murdoch Mann was finalized

dengdeng

 

Strained: Insiders say the marriage has been on the  rocks for several years – at one point friends said the two were living ‘largely  separate lives’

Friends: Wendi Deng and Cherie Blair in Beijing in 2009 

Friends: Wendi Deng and Cherie Blair in Beijing in  2009

Rumours: 

Rumours: BBC financial correspondent Robert Peston, who  is said to be a close friends with some key Murdoch staffers, hinted at a  shocking reason writing on his Twitter page

Close: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and media magnate Rupert Murdoch in 2008Close: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and media  magnate Rupert Murdoch in 2008

Mr Murdoch, who is estimated to be  worth  nearly £6billion, cited as grounds for the divorce ‘that the  relationship has broken down  irretrievably’.

Insiders said the 14-year marriage  has been  strained for years.

Some pointed to an article in the New York  Times last year in which her friends admitted the Murdochs were living   ‘largely separate lives’ as Miss Deng looked after their two children  while her  husband ran his global empire.

They reportedly came close to  splitting up  as long ago as 2006 when she reacted with fury to her  husband’s decision that  their daughters, Grace, 11, and Chloe, nine,  would not have the same say over  the running of the family business as  his children from previous  marriages.

Murdoch biographer Neil Chenoweth  suggested  yesterday that Mr Murdoch had planned the divorce as long ago  as February  because the death of his mother two months earlier gave him  extra shares in the  family business that he could use to pay off his  wife.

In the same month, observers of the couple at  the Oscars saw a noticeable change in Miss Deng’s behaviour towards her  husband.

‘She was snippy with him during the  Oscar  weekend and she’s really impatient with him these days,’ a source  at the time  told Deadline Hollywood, a film industry website which first reported the  divorce.

Michael Wolff recalled reports that  Mr  Murdoch told his oldest son, Lachlan, some years ago that he had  concluded that  marrying the Chinese-born Miss Deng was  a ‘mistake’.

Other sources claimed the  workaholic Mr  Murdoch was more concerned with the imminent division of his media  empire into  publishing and entertainment arms than with his split from  his wife.

New York home: 834 Fifth Avenue where Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng live in a triplex on the top floors. Rupert bought it for $44million in 2005

 

New York home: 834 Fifth Avenue where Rupert Murdoch and  Wendi Deng live in a triplex on the top floors. Rupert bought it for $44million  in 2005

Triplex: Murdoch and Wendi lived in the top three floors of 834 Fifth Avenue in New York 

Triplex: Murdoch and Wendi lived in the top three floors  of 834 Fifth Avenue in New York

 

Beverly Hills Home: One of the many properties Murdoch owns which he could lose in the divorce. Though the couple have a prenup, it depends how water tight it is and Deng is expected to fight for some of his estate 

Beverly Hills Home: One of the many properties Murdoch  owns which he could lose in the divorce. Though the couple have a prenup, it  depends how water tight it is and Deng is expected to fight for some of his  estate

Although the couple have a   pre-nuptial  agreement which should ensure that the Murdoch empire is not affected by the  split, their settlement will have to sort out what  happens to their seven  homes.

They include a Manhattan apartment Mr Murdoch  bought for £30million, a 16-acre Californian vineyard, a flat  in London’s  Mayfair, an 11-bedroom house in Beverly Hills and a period  house outside the  Forbidden City in Beijing.

The Wall Street Journal reported in  2000  that Miss Deng helped to cause the break-up of the marriage of an  American  couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry, who had befriended her when she  was a  student.

In 1988, they arranged for Miss Deng, then  aged 19, to leave China for Los Angeles to learn English.

She reportedly ran off with  53-year-old  Mr Cherry and later married him, enabling her to get a ‘green card’ to work in  the US.

The marriage soon ended after Mr Cherry  discovered she was spending time with a man nearly half his age, said the  Journal.

 

Protection: Wendi Deng lunges towards a man trying to attack her husband during a parliamentary committee hearing on phone hacking on July 19, 2011  

Protection: Wendi Deng lunges towards a man trying to  attack her husband during a parliamentary committee hearing on phone hacking on  July 19, 2011

Unity: The news of their divorce comes just two years after Deng steadfastly supported Murdoch and his son through the phone hacking scandal that brought down the News of the World  

Unity: The news of their divorce comes just two years  after Deng steadfastly supported Murdoch and his son through the phone hacking  scandal that brought down the News of the World

Big day: The couple married on a yacht in 1999, 17 days after his divorce from his second wife Anna Torv 

Big day: The couple married on a yacht in 1999, 17 days  after his divorce from his second wife Anna Torv

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2341825/Tony-Blair-strongly-denies-affair-Wendi-Deng-outrageous-rumours-sweep-internet-reason-Murdoch-divorce.html#ixzz2WFpt8RtO Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Guccifer emails link Tony Blair to top-secret Bohemian Grove gathering

Published time: March 25, 2013 17:28   Edited time: March 28, 2013 07:41                                                                            

Former British prime minister Tony Blair (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

Former British prime minister Tony Blair (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

Attending the elusive Bohemian Grove retreat should be a priority for former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, News Corp executive Andrew Knight allegedly writes in an email to US Gen. Colin Powell obtained by RT.

The mysterious computer hacker known only as Guccifer has once again supplied RT with a trove of presumed personal emails in which the private correspondence between some of the world’s most influential men is put under the looking glass. The hacker’s target is once again former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and this time the discourse dives into a topic rarely discussed: the annual summer retreat at California’s Bohemian Grove.

Guccifer has previously taken credit for hacking Gen. Powell’s Facebook, compromising what are believed to be sensitive emails sent to former-President George W. Bush and even uncovering emails about last year’s Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack allegedly sent to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the latest leaked emails sent to RT, Guccifer showcases a number of emails reportedly sent to Colin Powell’s AOL account during the last few years.

The few dozen emails forwarded to RT offer what appears on the surface to be little insight into Gen. Powell’s personal habits, but one email in particular referenced enough other well-known individuals that it couldn’t help but raise a red flag: in correspondence dated March 21, 2012, Knight asks Gen. Powell to have a few words with Mr. Blair about preparing for that year’s Bohemian Grove retreat, an annual gathering of the rich and powerful that has stayed so elusive for decades that countless documentaries and books have been written about the event — and journalists like Vanity Fair’s Alex Shoumatoff has even been arrested trying to infiltrate it.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press office told RT that they were not prepared to comment on the leaked emails.

According to the Sonoma County Free Press, the membership list of Bohemian Grove has included every Republican US president since 1923, as well as titans of the defense sector, banking tycoons and the CEOs of some of the largest corporations in the world. Spy Magazine linked the guest list with millionaires and billionaires from the likes of IBM and Bank of America, as well as leading politicians from Washington and abroad. And when Spy’s Philip Weiss snuck into the grove in 1989, he confirmed that attendees congregate at a shrine to an owl described as “40-foot-tall, moss-covered statue of stone and steel.”

Weiss adds that during the event’s middle weekend — the busiest session of the two-week gathering — he saw roughly 2,200 guests, all male, on the camp ground. Just last year, though, Powell was asked to ensure that Blair made it for that portion of the festivities.

“Might you be able gently/firmly to point out to Tony that you rank the Bohemia Middle Weekend in your diary before allowing any other duties to get in the way?!” writes Knight, a journalist who currently serves as a director of billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s multinational News Corp, in the latest leaked emails. “Lack of exposure suggests that Tony has not yet got his priorities straight.”

Also included in the email is a PDF attachment — unavailable to RT’s reporters — said to include a response of sorts from Mr. Blair to George Shultz, a longtime member of Washington’s elite that worked as secretary of state underneath US Pres. Ronald Reagan in the late 1980s while Gen. Powell held the position of national security advisor. In his own right, Shultz has been associated with the secretive Bohemian Grove group for decades.

In the leaked emails, Knight says to Powell, “I’m going to suggest the same to Henry,” likely implying that the journalist was determined to make sure Mr. Kissinger — who served as secretary of state under Pres. Nixon and Ford, and before that was national security advisor himself — was preparing to attend last year’s event.

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

Several sources online tie Powell, Shultz, Knight and Kissinger to Bohemian Grove, but Blair has only been long rumored to be an attendee at the annual soiree. In 2006, Blair did visit San Francisco, California — less than 100 miles away from the Grove’s gated campsite—where he dined with Shultz.

“There was speculation that Mr. Blair might even have been a guest at the male-only event, following in the footsteps of John Major and Prince Philip,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported at the time. “As it is, the Shultz party was said to have been littered with guests who had left the Grove in order to meet Mr. Blair.”

The San Francisco Chronicle also reported that summer that Prime Minister Blair was rumored to be attending the festivities, which have long become a topic of debate and discussion of conspiracy theorists, largely due to the sheer elusiveness of an event that attracts high-profile men of power with a strict embargo on admitting the media.

“Less than a mile from us there are millionaires, billionaires, people who control the world, control the central banks, build nuclear weapons. This is their summer playground,” Sonoma State University sociology professor Peter Phillips told RT in 2011. “We know for sure that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan sat down and had conversation about who was going to run for president when and they made a deal.” The Washington Post has even reported that a planning meeting for the Manhattan Project occurred at the grove in 1942, leading eventually to the creation of the atom bomb.

Since the list of attendees is kept under lock and key, only a confirmation from Powell or Blair themselves could verify whether or not the four star general did in fact convince the prime minister to attend last year’s event.

In his email to RT, Guccifer signed with the signature, “illuminati free world.”

 

http://rt.com/usa/bohemian-blair-powell-guccifer-811/

‘Shooting galleries’: The drug plan that could be too liberal for even Brighton

 

Plans for Britain’s first legal ‘consumption rooms’ are unsettling the resort widely touted as a prime location

Charlotte Philby

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Britain could see its first so-called “shooting gallery” – somewhere drug addicts can legally use heroin and crack without fear of arrest – open within the year, under controversial plans.

The bold plan is already proving controversial in Brighton, with the seaside city being pinpointed as a possible location for the inaugural centre by an independent drugs commission, headed up by Tony Blair’s former drug-tsar Mike Trace and the crime writer Peter James.

Among the results of an extensive report by the commission, published on Thursday, is a call for legal “drug consumption rooms” where addicts can inject without fear of reprisal. The aim: to “reduce drug-related harm to the addict and the community”.

Already operating in 10 countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, Germany and Spain, drug consumption rooms vary in their exact model. Addicts are given free heroin and clean needles to ensure quality control and reduce blood-borne viruses in some centres, while others restrict access to local residents and require identification cards. A small number of facilities only allow those who inject drugs and reject other users.

Details of a British centre are yet to be ironed out, but already concerns have been raised in Brighton, despite hopes that the generally liberal residents (about 2,000 of whom are battling drug addiction) would be more open to the idea.

Resident Adam Kemeny, 36, thinks a retreat for serious users is the last thing the city needs. “I don’t like the idea of it becoming more of a destination for addicts than it already feels like it is,” he said.

For local MP Caroline Lucas, who instigated the commission a year ago, the answer is unfortunately simple – because this liberal East Sussex enclave has the market. “For some Brighton has a holiday air of tolerance,” she said. “For whatever reason we do have the unwanted unofficial title of Drugs Death Capital of England,” she said

In fact, in the past couple of years, Brighton has slipped back from the No 1 spot for drug-related deaths. A report published earlier this year by the International Centre for Drug Policy showed the rate had fallen from 16 per 100,000 adults in 2010, to nine in 2011. It now ranks eighth, with Manchester first.

Brighton resident Jack Murray, 29, said he would support anything that got users off the streets. “Addicts being arrested for minor drug possession is a waste of time and money, plus who wants to watch someone smoking rocks or shooting up on the street?”

For the commission, which also focuses on the need to knit together mental health and drug services so that people who have problems on both sides don’t fall between the cracks, this is all part of a greater plan. As results from abroad have demonstrated, sanctioned sites for drug users can minimise drug-related deaths and needle littering.

Critics in Sydney have claimed that drug-related loitering and dealing worsened near their centre. But for Ms Lucas, who has represented Brighton Pavillion since 2010 and whose Green Party is calling for an urgent review of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, something has to change. “The Government’s approach to drug policy is evidence-free… Prohibition isn’t working,” she says.

She is reticent to be tied down to where exactly in Brighton these drug consumption centres should be – a sticking point for parents who fear the idea of addicts near schools or playgrounds, and residents and businesses who don’t want drug users in their neighbourhoods.

The vice-chairman of the commission, Mike Truce, said: “If the centre was inconsiderately located, it certainly wouldn’t get our support.”

“This is not just about getting activity off the street but about engaging with individuals and getting them into treatment,” he added.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/shooting-galleries-the-drug-plan-that-could-be-too-liberal-for-even-brighton-8577402.html#

 

Guccifer emails link Tony Blair to top-secret Bohemian Grove gathering

Published time: March 25, 2013 17:28                                                                            

Former British prime minister Tony Blair (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

Former British prime minister Tony Blair (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

Attending the elusive Bohemian Grove retreat should be a priority for former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, News Corp executive Andrew Knight allegedly writes in an email to US Gen. Colin Powell obtained by RT.

The mysterious computer hacker known only as Guccifer has once again supplied RT with a trove of presumed personal emails in which the private correspondence between some of the world’s most influential men is put under the looking glass. The hacker’s target is once again former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and this time the discourse dives into a topic rarely discussed: the annual summer retreat at California’s Bohemian Grove.

Guccifer has previously taken credit for hacking Gen. Powell’s Facebook, compromising what are believed to be sensitive emails sent to former-President George W. Bush and even uncovering emails about last year’s Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack allegedly sent to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the latest leaked emails sent to RT, Guccifer showcases a number of emails reportedly sent to Colin Powell’s AOL account during the last few years.

The few dozen emails forwarded to RT offer what appears on the surface to be little insight into Gen. Powell’s personal habits, but one email in particular referenced enough other well-known individuals that it couldn’t help but raise a red flag: in correspondence dated March 21, 2012, Knight asks Gen. Powell to have a few words with Mr. Blair about preparing for that year’s Bohemian Grove retreat, an annual gathering of the rich and powerful that has stayed so elusive for decades that countless documentaries and books have been written about the event — and journalists like Vanity Fair’s Alex Shoumatoff has even been arrested trying to infiltrate it.

According to the Sonoma County Free Press, the membership list of Bohemian Grove has included every Republican US president since 1923, as well as titans of the defense sector, banking tycoons and the CEOs of some of the largest corporations in the world. Spy Magazine linked the guest list with millionaires and billionaires from the likes of IBM and Bank of America, as well as leading politicians from Washington and abroad. And when Spy’s Philip Weiss snuck into the grove in 1989, he confirmed that attendees congregate at a shrine to an owl described as “40-foot-tall, moss-covered statue of stone and steel.”

Weiss adds that during the event’s middle weekend — the busiest session of the two-week gathering — he saw roughly 2,200 guests, all male, on the camp ground. Just last year, though, Powell was asked to ensure that Blair made it for that portion of the festivities.

“Might you be able gently/firmly to point out to Tony that you rank the Bohemia Middle Weekend in your diary before allowing any other duties to get in the way?!” writes Knight, a journalist who currently serves as a director of billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s multinational News Corp, in the latest leaked emails. “Lack of exposure suggests that Tony has not yet got his priorities straight.”

Also included in the email is a PDF attachment — unavailable to RT’s reporters — said to include a response of sorts from Mr. Blair to George Shultz, a longtime member of Washington’s elite that worked as secretary of state underneath US Pres. Ronald Reagan in the late 1980s while Gen. Powell held the position of national security advisor. In his own right, Shultz has been associated with the secretive Bohemian Grove group for decades.

In the leaked emails, Knight says to Powell, “I’m going to suggest the same to Henry,” likely implying that the journalist was determined to make sure Mr. Kissinger — who served as secretary of state under Pres. Nixon and Ford, and before that was national security advisor himself — was preparing to attend last year’s event.

 

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

Several sources online tie Powell, Shultz, Knight and Kissinger to Bohemian Grove, but Blair has only been long rumored to be an attendee at the annual soiree. In 2006, Blair did visit San Francisco, California — less than 100 miles away from the Grove’s gated campsite—where he dined with Shultz.

 

“There was speculation that Mr. Blair might even have been a guest at the male-only event, following in the footsteps of John Major and Prince Philip,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported at the time. “As it is, the Shultz party was said to have been littered with guests who had left the Grove in order to meet Mr. Blair.”

The San Francisco Chronicle also reported that summer that Prime Minister Blair was rumored to be attending the festivities, which have long become a topic of debate and discussion of conspiracy theorists, largely due to the sheer elusiveness of an event that attracts high-profile men of power with a strict embargo on admitting the media.

“Less than a mile from us there are millionaires, billionaires, people who control the world, control the central banks, build nuclear weapons. This is their summer playground,” Sonoma State University sociology professor Peter Phillips told RT in 2011. “We know for sure that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan sat down and had conversation about who was going to run for president when and they made a deal.” The Washington Post has even reported that a planning meeting for the Manhattan Project occurred at the grove in 1942, leading eventually to the creation of the atom bomb.

Since the list of attendees is kept under lock and key, only a confirmation from Powell or Blair themselves could verify whether or not the four star general did in fact convince the prime minister to attend last year’s event.

In his email to RT, Guccifer signed with the signature, “illuminati free world.”

http://rt.com/usa/bohemian-blair-powell-guccifer-811/

 

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales marries Tony Blair’s former diary secretary in star-studded ceremony… and Alastair Campbell played the bagpipes!

  • Ceremony in London attended by Tony Blair  and his former spin doctor Alastair Campbell wearing a kilt and playing  bagpipes
  • Celebrities including former Simply Red  singer Mick Hucknall invited
  • Marriage to Kate Garvey was updated on Jimmy  Wales’ Wikipedia page

By Larisa Brown

PUBLISHED:09:24 EST, 7  October 2012| UPDATED:09:45 EST, 7 October 2012

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales married Tony  Blair’s former diary secretary in a star-studded ceremony attended by celebrity  guests and politicians.

Mr Wales, 46, and his wife, Kate Garvey, 40,  tied the knot on Saturday at a private ceremony at Wesley’s  Church in London.

His Wikipedia page was updated accordingly,  where under ‘personal life’ it read the couple met in Davos, Switzerland, and it  is Mr Wales’ third marriage.

Happy couple: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Tony Blair's former diary Secretary Kate Garvey tie the knot 

Happy couple: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Tony  Blair’s former diary Secretary Kate Garvey tie the knot

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife  Cherie attended the ceremony, as did Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former spin  doctor.

Mr Campbell – who is known for busking around  the world with his bagpipes – donned a kilt in Clan Campbell tartan and played  the bagpipes.

Cherie wore a fitted knee-length dress,  silver necklace and bracelet and black kitten heel shoes.

Other guests included David Miliband and his  wife Louise – David was carrying a present wrapped in pink tissue  paper.

The newlyweds and their guests, including the bridal party, pose for pictures outside Wesley's Church in London on SaturdayThe newlyweds and their guests, including the bridal  party, pose for pictures outside Wesley’s Church in London on Saturday

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie in a knee-length dress and black kitten heels Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie in  a knee-length dress and black kitten heels

Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s former director  of strategy, and his wife Rachel Whetsone, who is an executive of Google were  among the invitees.

Mick Hucknall, former lead singer of  Simply  Red, Lily Cole, the model and actress, and former Labour minister Lord Adonis  also attended.

The wedding is the third for the internet  entrepreneur from Alabama and the first for the bride, who is now a director of  Freud Communications.

Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell wore a kilt and played the bagpipesBlair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell wore a kilt  and played the bagpipes

Lily Cole, the model and actress, wearing an electric blue dress, and Mick Hucknall, former lead singer of Simply Red, behind, were among the celebrities who attendedLily Cole, the model and actress, wearing an electric  blue dress, and Mick Hucknall, former lead singer of Simply Red, behind, were  among the celebrities who attended

Mr Wales has one child with Kate, who he met  at the World Economic Forum at Davos, and one with his ex-wife Christine  Rohan,who he met through a friend when she was working as a steel trader for  Mitsubishi.

Mr Wales set up the free, open content,  online encyclopedia in 2001. As Wikipedia’s public profile grew, he became the  project’s promoter and spokesman.

He has been named by Time magazine as one of  the 100 most influential people in the world.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2214123/Wikipedia-founder-Jimmy-Wales-marries-Tony-Blairs-diary-secretary-star-studded-ceremony.html#ixzz28dJv4qwi Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Gaddafi was killed by French secret serviceman on orders of Nicolas Sarkozy, sources claim

* Engineering Evil: Waiting for 2nd Confirmation

By Peter Allen

PUBLISHED:06:43 EST, 30  September 2012| UPDATED:06:45 EST, 30 September 2012

A French secret serviceman acting on the  express orders of Nicolas Sarkozy is suspected of murdering Colonel Gaddafi, it  was sensationally claimed today.

He is said to have infiltrated a violent mob  mutilating the captured Libyan dictator last year and shot him in the  head.

The motive, according to well-placed sources  in the North African country, was to stop Gaddafi being interrogated about his  highly suspicious links with Sarkozy, who was President of France at the  time.

There are still pockets of support for former leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya, despite his deathNicolas Sarkozy, France's former president

Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, allegedly  ordered the murder of former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi

Other former western leaders, including ex  British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were also extremely close to Gaddafi,  visiting him regularly and helping to facilitate multi-million pounds business  deals.

Sarkozy, who once welcomed Gaddafi as a  ‘brother leader’ during a state visit to Paris, was said to have received  millions from the Libyan despot to fund his election campaign in  2007.

The conspiracy theory will be of huge concern  to Britain which sent RAF jet to bomb Libya last year with the sole intention of  ‘saving civilian lives’.

A United Nations mandate which sanctioned the  attack expressly stated that the western allies could not interfere in the  internal politics of the country.

Instead the almost daily bombing runs ended  with Gaddafi’s overthrow, while both French and British military ‘advisors’ were  said to have assisted on the ground.

Now Mahmoud Jibril, who served as interim  Prime Minister following Gaddafi’s overthrow, told Egyptian TV: ‘It was a  foreign agent who mixed with the revolutionary brigades to kill Gaddafi.’

Gaddafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. The moment was captured on video 

Gaddafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on  his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the  ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. The moment was captured on  video

 

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, covered in blood, is pulled from a truck by NTC fighters in Sirte before he was killed 

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, covered in blood,  is pulled from a truck by NTC fighters in Sirte before he was killed

Revolutionary Libyan fighters inspect a storm drain where Muammar Gaddafi was found wounded in Sirte, Libya, last year 

Revolutionary Libyan fighters inspect a storm drain  where Muammar Gaddafi was found wounded in Sirte, Libya, last year

 

Diplomatic sources in Tripoli, the Libyan  capital, meanwhile suggested to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra that  a foreign assassin was likely to have been French.

The paper writes: ‘Since the beginning of  NATO support for the revolution, strongly backed by the government of Nicolas  Sarkozy, Gaddafi openly threatened to reveal details of his relationship with  the former president of France, including the millions of dollars paid to  finance his candidacy at the 2007 elections.’

One Tripoli source said: ‘Sarkozy had every  reason to try to silence the Colonel and as quickly as possible.’

The view is supported by information gathered  by investigaters in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the place where the ‘Arab  Spring’ revolution against Gaddafi started in early 2011.

Rami El Obeidi, the former head of foreign  relations for the Libyan transitional council, said he knew that Gaddafi had  been tracked through his satellite telecommunications system as he talked to  Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian dictator.

Nato experts were able to trace the  communicatiosn traffic between the two Arab leaders, and so pinpoint Gaddafi to  the city of Sirte, where he was murdered on October 20 2011.

Nato jets shot up Gaddafi’s convoy, before  rebels on the ground dragged Gaddafi from a drain where he was hiding and then  subjected him to a violent attack which was videod.

In another sinister twist to the story, a  22-year-old who was among the group which attacked Gaddafi and who frequently  brandished the gun said to have killed him, died in Paris last  Monday.

Ben Omran Shaaban was said to have been  beaten up himself by Gaddafi loyalists in July, before being shot twice.He was  flown to France for treatment, but died of his injuries in hospital.

Sarkozy, who lost the presidential election  in May, has continually denied receiving money from Gaddafi.

Today he was unavailable for comment, but is  facing a number of enquiries into alleged financial irregularities

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2210759/Gaddafi-killed-French-secret-serviceman-orders-Nicolas-Sarkozy-sources-claim.html#ixzz27yYJ1YOU Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

$1m an hour to schmooze sheiks? No wonder Mr Blair’s preening like the new peacocks on his country estate

* Engineering Evil Note: This is also filed under Security. Reason being, this Makes Mr. Blair a security risk.

By Paul Scott

PUBLISHED:18:34 EST, 14  September 2012| UPDATED:18:34 EST, 14 September 2012

 

Schmoozing sheiks: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was reportedly earned $1m (£620,000) to broker 11th-hour talks in a mining business takeoverSchmoozing sheiks: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair  reportedly earned $1m (£620,000) to broker 11th-hour talks in a mining business  takeover

They say the best revenge on one’s enemies is  to live well, in which case Tony Blair is certainly having the last laugh on his  many detractors. Take, for example, South Pavilion, his magnificent country  house nestling in the heart of the picturesque Chilterns.

On rising each morning and descending the  elaborate staircase into its 50ft drawing room, he is watched over by the  framed, brooding countenances of long dead noblemen and women.

The former Labour Prime Minister and his wife  Cherie have in recent times been scouring the finer auction houses of London to  add to their growing collection of 18th-century portraiture, whose grand  subjects’ lives were far removed from those of Liverpool-raised Cherie’s  ancestors, or Mr Blair’s own father, who was brought up in a Glasgow  tenement.

The pricey wall hangings represent a  prosperous past somewhat at odds with the Blairs’ more humble antecedents – the  couple’s present-day reality is unalloyed privilege.

By way of illustrating the fact, Mr Blair has  recently been overseeing some expensive changes at the grand Grade I-listed  Buckinghamshire pile. As well as stacking the inside to the gunwales with  hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of Regency and William IV antique  furniture, he has been taking charge of elaborate renovations to the already  impressive gardens.

The couple have commissioned, at great  expense, an elaborate fountain complete with dancing, chubby-faced  cherubs.

Meanwhile, an artist has been commissioned to  work on a vast tromp l’oeil on a wall in the grounds, which in turn gives way to  a secret garden.

Of course, it is the little touches that all  add to the impression of stately home splendour, to which end the Blairs have  installed a pair of peacocks, I am told, whose cacophonous calling reverberates  atmospherically around the grounds.

At the same time, they have taken delivery of  a cockerel and a small flock of hens to provide daily fresh  eggs.

And a large kitchen garden has been planted  to supply fresh vegetables for the couple’s full-time cook, whom they headhunted  from Chequers, the nearby country retreat of the sitting Prime  Minister.

At weekends, a steady stream of guests are  put up in two lavishly appointed four-bedroom cottages in the expensively  renovated grounds.

And when his busy role as an international  businessman allows it, Mr Blair can take his daily dip and indulge his passion  for two-hour long gym sessions in a state-of-the-art pool and fitness  complex.

Country house: Valued at £5.75m, Blair's home is nestled in the heart of the ChilternsCountry house: Valued at £5.75m, Blair’s home is nestled  in the heart of the Chilterns

To add to the sense of wellbeing, a female  instructor makes daily visits to the house – or to the Blairs’ £3.65 million  London residence in Connaught Square – to put Tony and Cherie separately through  a morning yoga and meditation routine.

No wonder, perhaps, given the  no-expense-spared work Mr Blair has paid for at South Pavilion, that the couple  were thrilled to learn recently that the house, which used to belong to Sir John  Gielgud, is now valued at twice the £5.75 million they paid for it four years  ago.

The mansion is not, however, to everyone’s  taste. ‘It’s all monumentally over-the-top,’ one recent overnight visitor tells  me. ‘The place needs a curator, not a housekeeper. It simply doesn’t feel like a  real home.

‘But Tony loves the opulence. There is a  sense of entitlement about him since he has become rich that was not there  before.

‘When I think back to the way they lived at  their old house in Islington before he was PM – which was frankly a bit of a  dump inside – the change in their circumstances is pretty  mind-blowing.’

South Pavilion in Wotton UnderwoodCountry house: Valued at £5.75m, Blair's home is nestled in the heart of the Chilterns

Unalloyed privilege: Tony and wife Cherie have spared no  expense in costly work on the opulent house, scouring finer auction houses to  add to their growing collection of 18th-century portraiture

Such indulgence is made possible by Blair’s  growing pre-eminence as the Mr Fix-it of international corporate diplomacy. His  skills as a mediator are highly prized.

Last week he reportedly earned $1 million  (£620,000) for three hours’ work when he was called in to broker 11th-hour talks  between two of the parties involved in a stalled £23 billion mining business  takeover.

Though sources close to Mr Blair do not  dispute the figure, one I spoke to this week told me: ‘Actually, it took up no  more than an hour of his time.’

‘Tony loves the opulence. There is a sense of  entitlement about him since he has become rich that was not there  before.’

Nice work if you can get it, and there are no  shortage of takers prepared to pay top dollar for the ex-premier’s conciliation  skills and his bulging contacts book.

That said, as we shall see, his lucrative  role in these latest negotiations only serves to highlight the sometimes blurred  lines between Blair’s money-making ventures, his roles as a Middle East peace  envoy and figurehead for his own eponymous charity empire.

‘Tony sees himself as a sort of Red Adair  figure (the famed American oil well fire-fighter) who parachutes in to get  people around a table and, occasionally, to knock heads together,’ a source told  me this week.

‘He’s worked very hard at nurturing business  contacts in almost every country on the planet and invariably he knows both  sides personally.

‘It makes him a rare animal and highly  prized.’

It goes without saying, perhaps, that the  people Mr Blair has so assiduously cultivated since leaving office five years  ago almost all have one thing in common: they are vastly rich.

Take, for example, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin  Jaber al-Thani, who was one of the two parties the ex-PM cajoled into sitting  down last week for those late-night talks in a beautifully appointed suite at  London’s Claridge’s Hotel. (Al-Thani was representing a major shareholder in one  of two companies negotiating the takeover deal.)

Mr Fix-it: Blair was mediator for two parties, one of which included the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani last week after a £23bn mining business takeover stalledMr Fix-it: Blair was mediator for two parties, one of  which included the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber  al-Thani last week after a £23bn mining business takeover stalled

The Sheik, who is known to friends by the  initials HBJ, is the Qatari Prime Minister, and even more importantly, the man  behind the oil and gas-rich Gulf state’s sovereign wealth funds, Qatar Holding  and the Qatar Investment Authority.

Indeed, so powerful is he that it’s said that  in his homeland ‘all roads and sea lanes lead to HBJ’. And with power comes  money.

The 53-year-old member of the country’s royal  family is the proud owner of the blue-hulled Al-Mirqab, a 437ft floating palace  that is one of the eight largest yachts in the world, and cost a cool £620 million when it was built in 2008.

Earlier this year, he pulled out of a deal to  buy a £56 million duplex penthouse in the 1,000ft One57 tower being built in  Manhattan’s Midtown district – and bought a £29 million townhouse nearby  instead.

Before that he’d offered £20 million for two  apartments, once owned by a copper heiress, overlooking New York’s Central  Park.

The moustachioed Sheik, who has two wives and  15 children, is also a partner in Project Grande, the Jersey-based company run  by property developer Christian Candy, which is behind the construction of the  prestigious One Hyde Park building in London, where a single flat reputedly sold  for £140 million only last year.

The Qatari prime minister, then, is just the  sort of influential – not to mention filthy rich – contact that Mr Blair has  sought to cultivate through Tony Blair Associates, the money-making arm of his  ever-expanding business and charitable empire.

Cultivated relationship: Mr Blair is considered a close personal friend of the sheik and has played a pivotal role in various negotiations involving the sheikCultivated relationship: Mr Blair is considered a close  personal friend of the sheik and has played a pivotal role in various  negotiations involving the sheik

Nor is it the first time Mr Blair, who is a  close personal friend, has played a pivotal role in negotiations involving the  Sheik.

During a court case in April, it was revealed  that Tony Blair Associates advised on a controversial – though ultimately  unsuccessful – scheme for Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family to take control of a  group of London’s most prestigious five-star hotels, including Claridge’s, the  Connaught and the Berkeley.

But such is the scope of Mr Blair’s sphere of  influence that the Qataris were only one of the various players linked to him in  last week’s high-level buy-out negotiations over plans by international  commodities trader Glencore to take over Swiss-based mining company  Xstrata.

Also set for a large cut of the deal if  shareholders – including Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund – sanction it, will be JP  Morgan, the Wall Street Bank which pays our ex-leader £2.5 million a year to act  as a senior adviser. JP Morgan is one of no fewer than ten banks helping broker  the deal, which would create one of the world’s largest mining  concerns.

Blair was called in to help on this occasion  by another high-profile contact, millionaire banker Michael Klein, a fellow Mr  Fix-it who was once a senior executive at international financial conglomerate  Citigroup, and is an adviser in the Glencore/Xstrata deal.

‘Tony sees himself as a sort of Red  Adair  figure who parachutes  in to get people around a table and, occasionally, to  knock heads  together.’

In 2008, Klein was paid £6 million to advise  now discredited former Barclays boss Bob Diamond on the purchase of stricken  U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers. City sources I spoke to this week say  Klein and Blair know each other through their mutual connections to Abu Dhabi,  where Mr Blair is on the payroll of Mubadala, the sovereign wealth fund that  invests Abu Dhabi’s vast oil profits.

Increasingly, however, it is hard to tell  where Mr Blair’s business dealings – which are said to have earned him as much  as £60 million – end, and his charitable role and unpaid work in the Middle East  begin.

In his job as Special Envoy to the so-called  Quartet (comprised of the UN, the U.S., the European Union and Russia), he is  expected to be in close dialogue with the aforementioned Sheik al-Thani, who is  also the country’s foreign minister, about the search for peace in the  region.

Nor is it the only part of the world where  there is confusion over his myriad roles.

In Rwanda, one of the several countries where  his Africa Governance Initiative charity – which seeks to encourage investment  into the continent – is based, Blair has been a long-time supporter of its  controversial leader Paul Kagame.

But in July, the U.S. cut aid to Kagame and  threatened him with criminal prosecution over his backing of rebels in the  neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, where Kagame is vying to get his  hands on the country’s vast mineral resources.

Supports controversial leader: Mr Blair has been a long-time supporter of Rwandan leader Paul KagameSupports controversial leader: Mr Blair has been a  long-time supporter of Rwandan leader Paul Kagame

Glencore, meanwhile, which called on  Mr  Blair’s negotiation skills last week, also has major interests in the Democratic  Republic of Congo, where earlier this year the conglomerate  faced accusations  of using child labour in its mines – something the  company denies.

Perhaps  such complications are simply an  unavoidable by-product of Mr Blair’s  astonishingly wide array of international  contacts.

One thing that’s for sure, however, is that a  very large bank balance almost invariably offers an entrée into his  orbit.

Yet another exceedingly rich businessman to  whom he has become close is Nigerian Tony Elumelu – Mr Blair’s new official  partner in an ambitious charity scheme to secure investment in poverty-stricken  African countries.

The Africa Governance Initiative, the charity  Blair launched in 2008, has joined forces with the Tony Elumelu Foundation to  create the Blair-Elumelu Fellowship Programme. The new charity even has its own  high-profile section devoted to it on Mr Blair’s website, which pictures the two  men beaming for the camera.

Certainly, father-of-five Mr Elumelu, a  billionaire who used to run one of Nigeria’s biggest banks, makes for a  distinctly colourful bedfellow.

In May, his mother was returned safe after  being taken hostage by armed kidnappers, who shot and wounded another woman  during her abduction.

And his brother, Ndudi, a prominent public  official in the country’s oil-rich Delta state, faced charges earlier this year  of siphoning off up to nearly £12 million meant for bringing much-needed  electrification to poor rural inhabitants, though the allegations were later  dropped.

But then Mr Blair would no doubt argue that  when one is a friend and Mr Fix-it to billionaires the world over, it is only to  be expected that you are inevitably going to rub up against some interesting  characters.

Should it all become a little overwhelming,  of course, he can always fall back on those meditation sessions or go and visit  his hens in a bid to restore his peace of mind.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2203546/Tony-Blair–1m-hour-mediator-lives-opulent-country-estate.html#ixzz26eW99JS4