Jim Armitage: Tony Blair's Kazakh deals leave a sour taste in the mouth


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The Independent Online

Outlook Details of Tony Blair’s smooth mixing of his business and charity work are emerging in the media on a daily basis this week, and they ain’t pretty.

The Sunday Times exposed a document in which, while pitching for business for his Tony Blair Associates consultancy, his organisation reminded his potential clients in the UAE of the network of contacts he has built up through his non-paid charity work.

 “We have teams of people on the ground working with governments, in 10 African countries and 10 outside Africa,” the document says. “If we add in the Faith Foundation work, it would be over 50.”

His organisation said this paperwork wasn’t authorised and the UAE isn’t a client. But it looks like TBA was rather too keen than it should be. And yesterday we learned from the serialisation of a new book, Blair Inc: the Man Behind the Mask, how the former PM’s businesses earned a reported £8m a year over two years for helping the government of Kazakhstan, run by the dictatorial President Nazarbayev.

We also read his wife Cherie Blair’s law firm Omnia Strategy is being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by the Kazakh Ministry of Justice, too. Mr Blair and others who deal with dubious countries say trade is the best way to bring democracy.

This could be true. But charity, business and politics should be kept strictly separate, or appear utterly conflicted. Mixing the three makes for an extremely unholy trinity.