Parliament to question Blair over Gaddafi ties

Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with Muammar Gaddafi © Leon Neal
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will be questioned on the nature of his relationship with deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi by a Parliamentary Committee next month.

The former PM will face questions about his role in orchestrating British foreign policy towards Libya when he appears before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in early December.

Committee chairman and Conservative MP Sir Crispin Blunt told the Independent Blair is fully responsible for Britain’s Libya policy.

“The policy construct inherited in 2011 was Blair’s. He was the one who reset Libya – it was his signal achievement, he claimed, to disarm Colonel Gaddafi of his weapons, his WMDs,” he said.

Blunt said Gaddafi was allowed to “buy himself out of the sanctions” even though he was “certainly a supporter of terrorists.”

The select committee is looking into the controversial 2004 “deal in the desert” brokered by Blair, under which Libya relinquished attempts to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for allowing Gaddafi to stay in power and reopening diplomatic ties between Libya and the West.

The deal, which was signed a year after the invasion of Iraq, was lambasted by critics, who resented the Gaddafi regime’s support of terrorism, particularly its role in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing which left 270 people dead.

Blair will also have to field allegations that he attempted to save Colonel Gaddafi before the allied bombings in 2011 and the NATO-supported ousting and killing of the Libyan leader. Blair is reported to have visited Libya at least six times since leaving his post as prime minister in 2007.

The former PM was revealed to have spoken to Gaddafi several times on the telephone in 2011 in an attempt to secure a peace deal during the uprising. He also urged then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to “humiliate” the Colonel.

Documents discovered in abandoned Libyan government offices following the 2011 revolution revealed Blair’s government colluded with Gaddafi to kidnap and fly Libyan dissidents to Tripoli from the UK. The UK Supreme Court is still deliberating whether a lawsuit brought by Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, one of the dissidents sent to Libya, can be heard in a UK court.