Now that everyone is probably scrambling for deniability if not cover, let's revisit David Rose's piece on New Labour, New Libya. It's something worth a second reading into the record.
Libyan sources insist, however, that Blair has visited Libya half a dozen times since stepping down as P.M. (Doyle declines to comment on this assertion, but does say that Blair visited Libya once in the 18-month period ending November 2010.) But Blairâ€™s employer, J.P. Morgan, does have commercial relationships with Libya. Three senior British officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say that Blair has made numerous trips to Libya since leaving Downing Street, at least partly on behalf of the bank. â€œThe Blair magic still works with Qaddafi,â€ one of these officials observes. â€œQaddafi will drop everything to see Blair.â€ Saif al-Islam, Qaddafiâ€™s probable heir, said last summer that Blair was â€œa personal family friendâ€ and added that Blair had visited Libya â€œmany, many timesâ€ since leaving office.
One such visit took place in June 2010. â€œHis plane landed at Mitiga airportâ€â€”a few miles east of Tripoli and used by V.I.P.â€™sâ€”â€œand a car took him straight to a minister with whom he had private business,â€ according to a well-placed source. â€œThen he went straight to Qaddafi.â€ There he briefed the dictator about what to expect from the new British coalition government led by David Cameron. Afterward, he spent the night at the British ambassadorâ€™s residence.
Neither Blair nor the bank will say anything about what he does to justify his salary, either in Libya or elsewhere. Executives at other banks with Libyan interests say that J.P. Morgan now handles much of the Libyan Investment Authorityâ€™s cash, and some of the Libyan central bankâ€™s reserves.