Blair benefited from classified intelligence while bidding for contracts, new biography claims

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair © Lucy Nicholson
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair benefited from classified intelligence data while hunting for lucrative business deals with far-flung regimes, an explosive new biography claims.

The controversial book, which was authored by investigative journalist Tom Bower, paints a damning portrait of Blair’s conduct in and out of office. Titled ‘Broken Vows,’ it is due to be published later in March.

In a series of extracts published ahead of the biography’s release, Bower uncovers how Blair “blurred” the lines between his commercial interests and charity work. Central to the investigative journalist's account are a number of key interviews with Cabinet ministers, mandarins and other senior sources.

Secret security briefings 

Bowers' damning portrait of Blair’s shady business dealings reveals a profit-hungry man determined to make millions.

After leaving office in 2007, Blair set up a number of charities, including the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) and the Faith Foundation. Eight years later, he flew to Nigeria to meet the new Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. The luxury jet he traveled on had been chartered by Evgeny Lebedev – the son of Alexander Lebedev, an ex-KGB colonel who owns the London Evening Standard newspaper.

The following day, Blair visited the British High Commissioner in Nigeria for a security briefing on the threat posed by terror group Boko Haram. In full knowledge of this classified information, he then made his way to Buhari’s offices.

The meeting had been arranged to discuss the prospect of Blair’s charity AGI carrying out work for the president. However, the former PM interrupted the proceedings mid-way and requested he be left alone with Buhari.

Speaking to officials in the room, Blair said: “Could you all leave us alone now? I have a personal message for the president from David Cameron.”

According to Bower, Blair touted for business for his private firm Tony Blair Associates throughout the ensuing 20-minute conversation. Among the proposals he mooted was an offer to sell Buhari Israeli drones and other arms with a view to defeating Boko Haram.

Following the meeting, the Nigerian president reportedly accused the former Labour leader of being merely “after business.” Bower’s book also accuses Blair of seeking overnight accommodation and security briefings in other British embassies.

‘Profit-hungry’ 

'Broken Vows' explores Blair’s decade in power, his resignation from the prestigious role of Middle East peace envoy and the commercial empire he constructed advising tyrants and tycoons in Asia, the Middle East and America.

Recent extracts from the biography cast light on the former PM's dealings with investment bank JPMorgan Chase. The book alleges Blair demanded a $5 million-a-year salary from the US investment bank after he departed from No 10. 

In a meeting with the bank’s then-chief executive Jamie Dimon, Blair was offered a seat on its board and a salary of $100,000 (£72,000). However, the ex-PM was reportedly unimpressed by the deal, and demanded a “proper job” and salary of at least $5million (£3.6million) per year. 

He also reportedly requested a five-year contract as an adviser to the bank and a percentage of every deal he closed. In a matter of weeks, Blair had secured all of his demands, according to Bower.

Bower notes that Blair also accepted money from questionable sources. A firm called PetroSaudi reportedly paid him £41,000 per month and a 2 percent commission on each contract he brokered with wealthy Chinese officials. The lucrative deal only came to a close after Blair was accused of bribing Malaysian officials.

'Pro-Israel bias'

Bower’s biography also uncovers how Blair’s prestigious role as Middle East peace envoy came to a bitter end after he was accused of having a pro-Israel bias.

Blair had attracted fierce criticism from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas while occupying the position in 2011, who questioned the former Labour leader’s value. Commenting on the Middle East Quartet, which had been tasked with brokering Israel-Palestine peace talks, Abbas’ senior aide branded it “useless, useless, useless.”

Blair eventually quit the role in 2014, after US Secretary of State John Kerry lost faith in his abilities.

‘Broken Vows’ also alleges the former Labour PM brokered a £20 million contract to conduct a review of the Kuwaiti economy. However, Kuwait’s government was so appalled by Blair’s findings it reportedly buried the review.

A spokeswoman for Blair said the allegation he used classified security data to source business contracts was utterly unfounded.

Speaking to the Daily Mail on Monday, she said Blair’s work in Nigeria was strictly charity-based.

“He has never sought a business contract from the government of Nigeria,” she said.

“Yes, he certainly has had briefings on Boko Haram. He is very interested in Boko Haram because it concerns directly the work of his foundation which is about countering extremism.”

The spokeswoman also denied Blair “demanded” a salary from JP Morgan. “His work as chairman of their International Advisory Council is a matter of public record,” she said.

On Blair’s role as Middle East peace envoy, she added: “It is true that some of those around the Palestinian leadership have been critical of Mr Blair. That is because he disagrees strongly with them over their political strategy. However, there are many other Palestinians with whom he works closely and well.”