I could earn more if I wanted, says Blair after criticism of envoy role


Tony Blair has spoken out against "hurtful" allegations that he has profiteered from his diplomatic missions to the Middle East, saying that most of the work he does is unpaid.

Rising resentment against the former prime minister, especially from within Palestine, has dogged recent attempts to help push forward peace plans, and he has been accused of profiting from commercial deals.

"It's completely untrue. Even [for] me with my broad shoulders and thick skin after all these years, it's not pleasant to have people say that," he told an Indian television channel. "I probably spend two thirds of my time on pro bono activity. I probably spend the biggest single chunk of my time on the Middle East peace process, which I do unpaid.

"If what I was interested in doing was making money I could make a lot more and have a very gentle and easy life." On Libya he said: "I've never made any commercial deals out of Libya at all. I was very instrumental in bringing him in from the cold when he gave up his nuclear and chemical weapons, started co-operating in the fight against terrorism. I hoped he might shift internal policy to match external policy shifts, but he did not."

He also dismissed accusations of having too cozy a relationship with media barons. "If you're in a situation where these guys can literally take out any ministers and make your government rock, you've got no option to work hard and try to bring them around," he said

"This is not so much about a cosy relationship, it's a relationship in which you are dealing with people who have the capacity to do very great damage."

His comments came as the Palestinian Authority denied it plans to make a formal request to remove Mr Blair from his position as a Middle East envoy. The former Prime Minister has held the position of special envoy for the Quartet, made up of the US, Russia, the EU and UN, for four years. However, some Palestinians believe he is biased towards the Israelis.

A spokesman for the PA said while there was great unhappiness with Mr Blair's role as envoy, his removal was not a priority. He added there were no plans to formally ask for Mr Blair to be replaced. There has been a series of mainly anonymous Palestinian complaints about Mr Blair's role as a mediator in the run-up to President Mahmoud Abbas's application for UN recognition a week ago. And Nabil Shaath, a member of the delegation Mr Abbas took to New York, was highly critical 13 days ago of the draft Quartet statement, which Mr Blair presented to the Palestinian President a few days earlier.

Mr Shaath said on the record at the time Mr Blair seemed "sometimes" more like an "Israeli diplomat" than a neutral interlocutor.

Cherie turns to business

Cherie Blair has accepted the directorship of a company that hopes to make money from the opening up of the NHS to private firms.

The barrister wife of the former Labour Prime Minister is a founder director of Mee, a company that wants to open private clinics in supermarkets, which include Sainsbury's and Tesco. The company is believed to represent Mrs Blair's first foray into commerce.

The move will dismay the Labour Party, which used its conference this week to condemn Coalition plans to open up the NHS to private competition.

On Wednesday, the shadow Health Secretary John Healey told delegates the plans were a "betrayal of our NHS" and would "damage patient care".

The plans would, he added, "break up the NHS as a national health service and set it up as a full-scale market, ruled for the first time by the full force of competition law". Mee claims it will provide a "revolutionary new way of delivering health care".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine