Evidence grows of Blair's links with Gaddafi

The former prime minister met twice with the Libyan leader after the Lockerbie bombing

Tony Blair's shadowy links with Muammar Gaddafi were thrust into the spotlight again last night after it emerged that he met the former Libyan dictator twice for secret talks in the run-up to the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

A collection of documents found in Tripoli have revealed that Mr Blair was flown to Libya twice on one of Colonel Gaddafi's private jets after he left office in the UK, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph. In the letters and emails, Mr Blair's private office repeatedly refers to Gaddafi as "The Leader".

The meetings, in 2008 and 2009, came at a time when Libya was threatening to cut all business links with the UK if Abdelbaset al-Megrahi stayed in a British jail.

The correspondence, between Mr Blair's office, the British ambassador in Tripoli and the Libyan ambassador in London, raise possible conflicts of interest regarding his roles as Middle East peace envoy, philanthropist and consultant.

The former prime minister, who brought a US billionaire to one of the meetings, makes no reference to the trips on any of his websites.

Mr Blair's office last night denied that the visits were business-related. A spokesman confirmed that Megrahi's situation was raised at the meetings, but insisted that Mr Blair always told the Libyans that the prisoner's status was a matter for the Scottish Executive. Megrahi, who has cancer, was eventually released on health grounds in August 2009 after doctors judged that he had only three months to live.

But Pam Dix, whose brother died in the Lockerbie bombing, said yesterday: "These meetings ... 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."

The meetings took place at a time of intense negotiations with Colonel Gaddafi's regime over Megrahi's release, after he was convicted of murdering 270 people in the single biggest terrorist atrocity committed in Britain.

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 Colonel Gaddafi. In 2008, Mr Blair, having met the Libyan leader, arranged to fly on to Luton on a Libyan jet.

The first letter was sent on writing paper headed "Office of the Quartet Representative", Mr Blair's title as a Middle East peace envoy, which he took up after he resigned as prime minister in June 2007.

The letter, written on 2 June 2008, was sent to Omar Jelban, Libya's ambassador to Britain. It was written by Gavin Mackay, then 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."

Details of the 2009 meeting with colonel Gaddafi are contained in an exchange of emails between Victoria Gould, Mr Blair's events organiser, and Sir Vincent Fean, former British ambassador to Libya. The correspondence shows Tim Collins, a billionaire friend of Mr Blair, attended.

A spokesman for Tony Blair said last night: "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.

"The subject 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. At the time, governments around the world were engaging with Libya."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee