Tony Blair is unaccountable over business interests, adviser says


Click to follow

More questions have been raised over Tony Blair's lucrative business activities after an adviser in his role as a Middle East peace envoy said the former Prime Minister continued to operate outside a defined code of conduct. Channel 4's Dispatches, due to be broadcast tonight, claims that Mr Blair is not required publicly to disclose his commercial interests as he would if he were an MP.

Mr Blair combines a £2m-a-year consultancy with the US investment bank JP Morgan with his unpaid post in Jerusalem, where he is heading international efforts in preparation for a future Palestinian state. He also advises the insurance group Zurich Financial, while his company Tony Blair Associates signed a reported £27m-deal advising the Kuwaiti government.

They are among a string of globetrotting business interests that have seen him build an estimated personal fortune of £20m since leaving office in 2007. But a senior French diplomat Anis Nacrour, who advised Mr Blair on security for three years, has fuelled doubts over the former Labour leader's public accountability.

He said no code of conduct applied to him in his capacity at the Office of the Quartet Representative – the diplomatic organisation which represents the US, the UN, the EU and Russia in the Middle East – whose expenses are part-funded by the British taxpayer.

"I think he makes his own rules depending on the experience he has as a former Prime Minister for over 10 years," Mr Nacrour told the programme.

Among the activities highlighted by Channel Four is Mr Blair's advocacy for the Qatari-owned telecoms company Wataniya, which was granted bandwidth rights in the West Bank. JP Morgan helped negotiate a £2bn loan for the purchase of the company in 2007. It also detailed the former Labour leader's lobbying to develop a $6bn oil field off Gaza for which British Gas Group own operating rights. British Gas is also a major client of the US investment bank.

Mr Blair's spokesman said that the former Prime Minister's advocacy of both projects was in accordance with the "long-standing demands of the international community," and that his mandate at the Quartet was set out by the UN secretary general in 2007.

He added: "In neither case was Mr Blair even aware JP Morgan had a connection with the company. He never discussed it with them. They never raised it with him."