Gordon Brown urged to act on Tony Blair business interests

Press Association
Friday 19 March 2010 15:06 GMT

Gordon Brown was urged to step in over Tony Blair's business interests today following the latest disclosure of the former prime minister's links with a multinational oil giant.

It finally emerged this week that Mr Blair had been paid for advising the UI Energy Corporation, a South Korean oil company with extensive interests in the US and Iraq.

The details were released by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which vets jobs taken by ministers and senior officials within two years of leaving office, 20 months after he took on the work.

The committee - chaired by former Conservative Cabinet minister Ian Lang - said it had not previously published the information due to "market sensitivities".

It also disclosed Mr Blair had been acting as a "governance adviser" to the Kuwaiti government since June 2008 in a deal reportedly worth £1 million.

The committee said that publication had been delayed at the request of the Kuwaitis.

A spokesman for Mr Blair was quoted as saying that the agreement with UI Energy related to a "one-off piece of advice" and was not related to Iraq.

Although the committee cleared both appointments, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker expressed concern that Mr Blair was in breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct in relation to the extensive business interests he has taken on since leaving office in 2007.

He said that since last November he had written three times to Mr Brown asking him to investigate - as well as raising the issue on the floor of the Commons - but so far had not received any substantive reply.

"Mr Brown appears to be desperately trying to avoid giving an answer before the general election. He is playing for time," he said.

He said Mr Blair's business activities reflected badly on both Britain and the wider international community which now employed him as an international envoy on the Middle East.

"Mr Blair's pursuit of money appears too prominent and wholly compromises his position as a Middle East peace envoy. He is embarrassing the country and this Government by the way he behaves," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said: "Mr Blair gave a one-off piece of advice in respect of a project for UI Energy in August 2008.

"He sought, and received, approval from the Committee on Business Appointments before undertaking this project.

"It was UI Energy who requested of the committee that they delay public announcement, for reasons of market sensitivity, which the committee agreed to do."

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