Kim Sengupta: Yard may shed light on Blair's role in Libya


Related Topics

In the same letter in which security chief Sir Mark Allen was recording MI6's contribution to the rendition of Abdul Hakim Belhaj and thanking his friend Moussa Koussa, the head of Libyan intelligence, for the "delicious dates and oranges", he also had to arrange a highly important diplomatic fixture: Tony Blair's first meeting with Muammar Gaddafi in the glare of the media. "No 10 are keen that the Prime Minister meet the Leader in the tent," wrote Sir Mark. "The plain fact is the journalists would love it."

Those of us journalists who saw the documents in Tripoli after the rebels had swept in were struck by the extent to which the British government was pressing its intelligence service to play a key role in the rapprochement with Gaddafi's regime. Much of the handling of Blair's 2004 "deal in the desert" was delegated by Downing Street to the men from Vauxhall Cross.

And Blair had to thank the SIS and Allen for one of his triumphs of foreign policy which stood in stark contrast to the disaster of Iraq: the negotiations which led to Gaddafi giving up his WMD programme and, crucially, the secret nuclear supermarket for rogue states run by the Pakistani scientist AQ Khan. Such was the MI6 influence that an MI6 official wrote Gaddafi's speech renouncing chemical and biological weapons.

The Libyans were proving invaluable in providing information about a common enemy – Islamist terrorism – which the British government was happy to pass on to the Americans for approbation.

Having taken the plaudits, Blair and Straw were very keen to deny knowledge of MI6's activities when, post-Gaddafi, the documents began to surface. It will be interesting to see what Scotland Yard uncovers about who knew what was going on. It is risible to suggest that MI6 ran an autonomous policy in Libya unknown to the PM and Foreign Secretary. What colleagues recall about Allen and politicisation in the SIS was his absolute refusal to get involved in the production of the "dodgy dossier" on Iraq. The activities of the Blair government in that illegal war are now well known. The Yard inquiry may well shed further daylight on its role in Gaddafi's Libya.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam