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Blair slammed for business “conflicts” during envoy role

Documents seen by the Telegraph suggest Blair has carried out both private business trips as Quartet Representative

Published: Updated:

Former British Prime Minister and Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair is once again in the firing line as UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reveals the alleged cost of his globe-trotting.

Documents obtained by the newspaper suggest Blair has carried out both private business trips around the world and trips in his role as Quartet Representative to the Middle East - exposing him to accusations of a potential conflict of interests.

As a former British PM, he is also required to have a police guard where ever he goes, which includes his business trips abroad. The total cost to the British tax payer has been tallied up to 16,000 GBP ($24,800) a week, the newspaper reported.

According to the report, he travelled around the world with his police bodyguards in tow (earning overtime as they travel), as he flies on private jets and stays in five-star hotels.

An unnamed ambassador – who attended meetings with Blair regarding his Quartet work - told the newspaper that the former PM, who took the UK into the war with Iraq, “used the ticket of the Middle East Envoy and Quartet” to communicate with governments on a commercial basis.

The ambassador said the possible conflict was “pretty distasteful.”

Another ambassador who spoke on condition of anonymity told the newspaper that in one European country, companies linked to Blair - allegedly including his wife’s law firm - were “sniffing for work.”

It is claimed that he has been paid tens of millions of pounds for his advice after nurturing “a network of some of the world’s most influential leaders and businessmen,” to “build a roster of clients,” the newspaper reported.

But the newspaper suggested it was likely that Blair paid for the cost of his bodyguards’ travel when flying on private jets.

Last month Al Arabiya News reported on Blair’s resignation from the position of Middle peace envoy as came under criticism for having achieved little during his time in the role.

It was a role that regularly brought him to the region and now the Daily Telegraph has revealed that in one trip to Israel in February 2012, he then conducted a mixture of charity work and private business as he flew onto UAE, Qatar, China and Kazakhstan.

Included in a list of details, the newspaper claims Blair struck commercial deals in Abu Dhabi while in negotiations with the emirate in his role as Middle East envoy for more than $45 million (£29 million) in funding for the Palestinian Authority.

British lawmaker Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative MP, has called for Blair to fully declare his business interests.

He told the newspaper: “Mr Blair has consistently blurred the line between his official and commercial activities, while his security entourage has incurred huge expenses for the British taxpayer.

“It is not appropriate for a man who has held the highest office in the land and has been privy to every one of our nation’s secrets to undertake work for a foreign power.”

Blair’s office have denied claims of a conflict of interests: “There are no conflicts of interests with any of Mr Blair’s work, including his role as Quartet representative.”

The spokesperson said clear policies and procedures were in place to ensure there were no conflicts. This included a clause in his commercial contracts that stated he would not carry out work that conflicted with his duties in the Quartet.

The spokesperson added that the funding of the Palestinian Authority by Abu Dhabi was made by a “separate organization” to Mubadala, the sovereign wealth fund Blair advises.

The spokesperson added that Blair had “never used his position as a Quartet representative to further business interests.”

Neither Blair’s spokesperson nor the Metropolitan Police were prepared to comment regarding his security arrangements, the newspaper reported.