tony blair A staff of 130, turnover in the tens of millions: Tony Blair has created enormous wealth, but nobody knows quite how.

'His lifestyle involves moving between five-star hotels and mansions'

Tony Blair was merely a prime minister when he made his last major speech at the Trimdon Labour Club in 2007. After being burdened with the inconvenience of running the country for 10 years, he could not stop grinning as he announced that he was quitting not only Downing Street, but Parliament itself, freeing him from the constraints of public service. On Tuesday, as Mr Blair returned to Trimdon to endorse Gordon Brown, his former constituents got their first close-up view of just how much better life had become for “our Tony” since he began his “journey” (as he would say) into the private sector.

With skin burnished to a dark ochre by unbroken exposure to the world’s sunniest climes and worry lines long faded away, Mr Blair made those around him look anaemic. Gone were the “blokeish” glottal stops in his speech that used to remind us that he was a “pretty straight sort of guy”, replaced by a mid-Atlantic twang that was far more user-friendly to his fee-paying audiences around the world. But it was not Mr Blair’s physical appearance, nor even his glowing tribute to his sometime friend Mr Brown, that provided the greatest surprise of his visit to Sedgefield. It was the discovery that Mr Blair now employed 130 people in his ever-expanding business and charity empire, with the wage bill for “Blair Incorporated” thought to be £10 million to £20 million.

Incredible as it may seem, it means that all previous estimates of Mr Blair’s personal wealth — usually put at £20 million since he left office — appear to have been more than a little on the conservative side. Sources close to Mr Blair say his earnings are “several multiples” of the figures that have been quoted in the past, suggesting that £50 million or even £60 million would be closer to the mark, although his spokesman described such a suggestion as “simply ludicrous”. We will never know the truth, of course, because Mr Blair has set up a mind-boggling web of companies through which he can channel his earnings without having to declare publicly all of his income. The only two Blair companies that filed accounts had a combined income of £11.7 million in 2008-09. However, a conversation Mr Blair had this week with his former agent, John Burton, provided a telling glimpse of what lay behind his veil of secrecy.

“I said, 'How many people do you employ’, and he said 130,” Mr Burton later disclosed, unable to disguise his bewilderment. “I mean it was 25 about two years ago and he said to me [then], 'I have got to earn £5 million a year to pay the wages’, so God knows what he has got to earn now to pay the wages.” The fact that Mr Blair now employed five times as many people would suggest that his wage bill could be five times as high, though the real figure was likely to be rather less, as most of his more recent appointments were thought to have been in relatively junior posts. Nevertheless, Mr Blair is undoubtedly generous to his most senior staff, many of whom loyally followed him from Downing Street to The Office of Tony Blair, as he calls his umbrella organisation. They include Ruth Turner, 39, Mr Blair’s former head of government relations, who was arrested during the “cash for honours” investigation (though not charged with any offence). She is chief executive of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, a charity that promotes better understanding between religions, and is richly rewarded.

Its accounts show that its two highest-paid staff, one of whom is Miss Turner, earn between £110,000 and £120,000 per year, which comes from charitable income. That is more than the chief executive of Oxfam, which employs 5,000 people. Miss Turner’s impressive pay packet is likely to be matched by others working in Mr Blair’s headquarters in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair. Top earners are thought to include Matthew Doyle, Mr Blair’s political director, who was his deputy director of communications at No 10; Kate Gross, the chief executive of Mr Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative, who was one of his private secretaries; and Jeanette Pickard, who was manager of Mr Blair’s constituency office in Sedgefield before being elevated to chief executive of the Tony Blair Sports Foundation. However much he pays his staff, it seems there is plenty left over for life’s little comforts. One recent guest at South Pavilion in Wotton Underwood, Bucks, which is Tony and Cherie Blair’s £5.75 million country house, said the couple “live like royalty”, with up to 20 staff tending to their needs. “They are living far more lavishly then when Tony was prime minister,” said the source. “Their country home is incredible. They seem to have a lot of staff and the furnishings are breathtaking. A lot of the people he socialises with are billionaires, and his lifestyle involves moving between five-star hotels and mansions around the world, always in private jets and helicopters.”

In one recent spree, Mrs Blair spent more than £250,000 on Georgian and Regency furniture for the 18th-century house, which was previously the home of Sir John Gielgud. The Blairs were also able to pay cash for a £1.13 million mews house in London for their second son, Nicky, who is a teacher. Exactly where the money comes from is something Mr Blair would rather we did not know. He was so sensitive about a deal with UI Energy Corporation, a South Korean oil firm, that he kept it secret for almost two years, persuading a parliamentary committee that vetted the work of former ministers that it was “commercially sensitive”. What was perhaps even more sensitive for Mr Blair was that UI had extensive interests in Iraq, which opened up to foreign companies once British forces helped topple Saddam Hussein. Mr Blair also earned a £4.6 million advance for his memoirs, The Journey, out later this year; an estimated £1 million from the Kuwaiti royal family for producing a report on the future of the oil-rich state; and £2.5 million for consultancies with JP Morgan and Zurich Financial Services.

There is also the small matter of the £63,468 pension he already receives, and his taxpayer-funded office allowance of £84,000 per year. He charges up to £200,000 for speeches. His next appointments are in Singapore and Malaysia, where it is not too late to pay £430 to hear “a fascinating account of where the world is heading”. But the key to Mr Blair’s wealth almost certainly lies in the opaque dealings of Tony Blair Associates, the company he established last year to carry out consultancy work for foreign governments. Deals with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are already rumoured to be on the cards; figures of £5 million per year have been guessed at. Money earned by Tony Blair Associates is likely to be paid into one of six companies registered by Mr Blair, all of which have names beginning with either Windrush or Firerush. Two of them reported a combined income of £11.7 million for the last financial year, but details of where the money came from, and how much of it was paid to Mr Blair, were not revealed. The other four companies are limited partnerships or limited liability partnerships, meaning they may not have to file accounts. Intriguingly, Mr Blair’s praise of Mr Brown in Trimdon could produce a commercial benefit. On the day he made the speech, he launched a new electioneering website, tonyblair4labour, which encouraged visitors to sign up for a newsletter by giving their email and postcode. The small print of the website, set up by a Windrush company, tells users their details might be used “to recommend products and services that we believe will be of interest to you” and “to permit third party research organisations to question individuals registered with us in respect of surveys and/or consultations”.

Whether or not Windrush will be paid for passing on such details is not spelt out. Ironically, those who worked closely with Mr Blair in Downing Street insisted that he was not, at the time, motivated by money. “I never had the sense that he was particularly money-conscious when I worked with him, though he was always intrigued and fascinated by rich people and he has always liked to be surrounded by nice things,” said Lance Price, a former spin doctor who was Alastair Campbell’s deputy.

“Having said that, he has always wanted the best for his family and there was never any doubt that he had the capacity to go on and run Tony Blair as a business, which is effectively what he is doing.” Before Mr Blair left office, the accepted wisdom was that the Blairs’ acquisition of an impressive property portfolio, including a £4.5 million London base in Connaught Square, was driven by Cherie. As evidence of Mr Blair’s unstoppable accumulation of wealth mounts, it appears that the couple are finally on the same wavelength.

    house of lords Shock! City slickers are arrested
    We must wake up to the harm white-collar crime does to society

    'Laws are like spider webs," said the Scythian philosopher Anacharsis. "They will catch the weak and the poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful." He was describing the Athens of the 6th century BC but his cynicism applies as well to modern Britain.

    Steal £1,000 of other people's cash and you go to prison. Steal £1,000,000 of other people's savings and you go to the House of Lords. Prosecutions of financiers have become so rare that last week a shocked press treated as news an announcement by the Financial Services Authority that it had arrested alleged insider dealers. By sending its officers to Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and Moore Capital, the Economist explained, the authority was demonstrating its new strategy of "credible deterrence". As I understand it, "credible deterrence" differs from the FSA's previous policy of "incredible deterrence" in one significant respect. Instead of doing nothing, the authorities have decided to enhance their credibility by taking the bold and innovative course of actually investigating potential criminals.

    Looking back at the ruins of the 2000s, it is easy to see the novelty of the approach. London achieved its global financial position by offering itself as a crime city or no-go area for regulators where illicit speculation could escape the scrutiny it encountered elsewhere. When Lehman Brothers wanted to hide billions of dollars of debt off balance sheet, it asked Linklaters in London to approve the disastrous deal. Where better to go? The idea that the partners of a City law firm or the boards of RBS or HBOS were gentlemanly capitalists who would put preventing a catastrophe before lining their own pockets had become unthinkable. Equally far-fetched was the notion that authorities would make them do it. For Labour thought it could best redistribute the proceeds of speculation by doing nothing to curb the activities of speculators.

    One undeservedly obscure piece of legislation summarises the folly of Gordon Brown's plan to build social democracy on the tax receipts of a bubble. You and your children will be paying into the 2020s for the collapse of the market in part because the 2001 Financial Services and Markets Act decreed that the FSA "must consider the international mobility of the financial business" before taking enforcement action and "avoid damaging the UK's competitiveness". In plain terms, the government was telling the men and women policing the City to put the interests of the City above the rule of law. It is as if Labour had ordered uniformed police officers to remind themselves that "mobile" foreign tourists could always holiday in other countries before deciding to arrest drunken clubbers arriving on the Eurostar, or to consider the damage they could do to the "competitiveness" of the slums before moving against a drugs gang. Sir Ken Macdonald, who wasted his best years serving Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as director of public prosecutions, described the consequences in an impressively disgusted piece for the Times. Britain has become a country in which "no one has any confidence that fraud in the banks will be prosecuted as crime," he said; in which the law fills the prisons with "junkies, inadequates and the mentally damaged" rather than "the clever people who have done their best to steal our economy".

    A brief survey of white-collar prosecutions or, rather, lack of prosecutions, shows that he is right. Between 1998, when the dotcom bubble was inflating, and 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, the number of defendants put on trial after a Serious Fraud Office investigation fell from 42 a year to 25. The conviction rate also went down from 81% in 1998/9 to 68% in 2007/8. The old indifference to financial crime is meant to be changing now that we have the new, tough policy of "credible deterrence". I would not be so sure because you cannot just blame Brown and the authorities for the breakdown of law and order in the City. You must look at the legal profession too. The class bias of the English judiciary in favour of the wealthy has been so evident over the past 30 years it might have turned a shire Tory into a Marxist-Leninist. That the judges do not treat the robbing of savers or investors as any kind of crime has been obvious from their behaviour in the libel courts.

    Robert Maxwell was able to steal the money of Mirror Group pensioners because the law allowed him to menace and punish critics who sought to expose him. More egregiously, Mr Justice Eady allowed the Saudi banker Khalid bin Mahfouz to initiate dozens of libel actions to protect his good name, even though as one of the principle players in the collapse of the criminally corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International he had no good name. The SFO and FSA could argue with justice that the law prevented them from securing convictions because it refused to follow the successful US system of allowing plea bargains and streamlined trials, which at least mean America convicts great fraudsters. That was then, say the optimists. Now, the British courts are accepting plea bargains, and Lord Turner at the FSA and Mervyn King at the Bank of England have taken the lessons of the crisis to heart. King in particular wants to see Glass-Steagall principles adopted that will separate high-street banking from gambling, just as the Obama administration, which is at last finding some radical self-confidence, wants limits on the size of banks and a ban on bankers trading on their own behalf.

    Encouraging developments, you might think. But demands for "credible deterrence" always come after the crashing of bubble markets. What matters is whether they are acted on. I worry that the traditionally conservative governor of the Bank of England sounds angrier about the consequences of the crash than the leaders of the political parties, who do not seem to feel any instinctive fury at the fleecing of their constituents. Only politicians can initiate reform, but despite living through one of the worst crises of their lifetimes, they remain sluggish and inexcusably relaxed. I suspect that in their hearts they want to go back to the familiarity of the bubble years, a "normality" best represented by the image of a spider's web that catches the little people while allowing the mighty to pass through.

    chris bryant

    Westminster no longer represents heterosexual men and their families. Only the likes of EXTREME radical feminist Harriet Harman who gives the rubber stamp to homosexual marriage against virtually all religions. But the Rad fems and Rad homo's are NOT going to get away with stuffing their very warped political agenda's down the throats of the long suffering heterosexual male community. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Mandelson another homosexual and zionist now running the country for beleaguered Gordon Brown

    Minister ties the knot in Parliament's first gay 'wedding'

    Europe Minister Chris Bryant became the first homosexual MP to enter into a civil partnership in the Houses of Parliament yesterday. The Labour MP for Rhondda, a former Church of England clergyman, tied the knot with his partner Jared Cranney, a company secretary. The ceremony took place in the Members’ Dining Room, overlooking the Thames, after the Speaker John Bercow gave his permission for it to go ahead.

    In a statement released afterwards, the couple said they were ‘enormously grateful’ to Mr Bercow and Leader of the Commons Harriet Harman for making the ‘really special day’ possible. ‘We never thought this day would come – and never thought we’d have to worry about cakes and flowers and rings,’ they said. ‘It’s amazing how much things have changed in such a short time.’ The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gave gay couples the right to obtain the same inheritance and legal rights as married couples. After the ceremony yesterday, Mr Bercow hosted a drinks party in Speaker’s House followed by an evening reception in the State Dining Room for the couple, who met on the local election campaign trail in April last year. In 2006, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw became the first MP to enter into a civil partnership, with BBC journalist Neal Dalgleish.

  • Mandelson an odious, discredited creep ,homosexual and Zionist running the UK
    police state uk Ministers were accused yesterday of keeping the public in a permanent 'state of emergency' to justify draconian anti-terror laws.

    A panel of MPs and peers said they falsely claimed that terrorists were a 'threat to the life of the nation' ever since the 9/11 attacks. The Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that the erosion of civil liberties has gone too far and demanded an overhaul of legislation like control orders, stop and search powers and rules that allow suspects to be detained for up to 28 days. They also urged ministers finally to axe the Bill that would allow detention without trial for 42 days. It was shelved two years ago. Labour peer Lord Dubs, a committee member, said: 'The state of emergency going on indefinitely is not the most sensible way. 'The Government has gone a bit far in a number of respects and there should be a sensible balance between the right to protect ourselves from terrorism and the rights of individuals. 'We accept that there is a serious threat but we think they have gone further than is sensible.' The committee demanded that intelligence chiefs testify in public about the scale of the threat. Lord Dubs said: 'We think the security services should be accountable to Parliament. They are in America. They are in other countries.'

    The Government was condemned in 2003 for scaring the public by sending armoured cars to Heathrow - a move seen as unlikely to stop an attack on a jet. The European Court of Human Rights has also ruled that Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which lets police stop and search anyone, contravenes privacy law. The committee's report condemned government claims that British spies have not been complicit in the torture of terrorist suspects. It said the official definition of complicity had 'no legal basis' and the case for a full judicial inquiry into the subject was now 'irresistible'.

    Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'The committee is right to question whether all of the legislation introduced since 2001 is proving effective or necessary. 'But even more important is the need to stop the use of terror laws for other purposes, like council surveillance.' A government spokesman said: 'We are committed to doing all we can to protect our nation's security while protecting individual liberties.'

    tony blair Tony Blair tried to keep the public in the dark over his dealings with South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation

    Only a generation ago, Britain was rightly famed throughout the world for the high standards of integrity, decency and probity in our public life. Our civil servants did not take bribes - in sharp contrast to the deplorable conduct of officials across most of Europe, Africa and beyond.

    And our politicians were keenly conscious of the distinction between public service and private greed. They did not go into government to make a fortune. On the contrary, with a few benighted exceptions - such as Conservative Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, who was jailed for perjury - they were driven by a fierce belief in public duty. But over the past 13 years, British public life has undergone a terrible deterioration. As the Commons expenses scandal so graphically demonstrates, MPs today think nothing of extorting money from the taxpayer. Meanwhile, former ministers shamelessly profit from office by making ruthless use of their contacts. And the office of Prime Minister, instead of being the ultimate ambition for every aspiring MP, is now seen as a stepping stone for joining the super-rich. The great historian A.J.P. Taylor once remarked that David Lloyd George, who led Britain during World War I, was the first Prime Minister since the notoriously corrupt Sir Robert Walpole in the 18th century to make money as a direct consequence of holding high office. But in the league of shame, Tony Blair is arguably the worst of them all.

    We now know that the wretched Blair has multiplied his personal fortune many times over by trading off the connections he made while in Downing Street. Shockingly, he fought a long battle to conceal the source of his new-found wealth, and only this month did it finally become public that one of his largest clients was a South Korean oil company, the UI Energy Corporation, with extensive interests in Iraq. Since he has also made £1million from advising the Kuwaiti royal family, it can be fairly claimed that Blair has profiteered as a result of the Iraq War in which so many hundreds of thousands of people died - including, of course, many British servicemen.

    In all, Blair is thought to have made some £20million since leaving Downing Street in July 2007. Where Blair has led, others have followed. On Monday night, a Channel 4 Dispatches programme revealed the greed of three Cabinet ministers loyal to Blair. Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary during the Iraq War, admitted on camera that he aimed to turn the contacts he had gained while part of the British Government into 'something that frankly makes money'.

    Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon have been suspended from the Labour Party over the 'cash-for-lobbying' scandal

    Hoon's former colleague (and Blairite favourite) Stephen Byers boasted about how he used ministerial contacts such as Peter Mandelson to change government policy for favoured clients. Former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt was almost as squalid, saying she had a five-point plan to help companies lobby ministers and civil servants. And it should not be forgotten that it is barely a year since a group of Labour peers were caught offering to change government legislation in exchange for money. Bear in mind the other scandals of the New Labour years in which government policy was sold for hard cash - viz Blair's readiness to leap into action on behalf of very rich men ranging from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, to the Indian billionaires the Hindujas, to steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal. And then there was the granting of peerages for large cheques written to the Labour Party in the 'cash-for-honours' imbroglio.

    A pattern of degradation emerges. Something has gone horribly wrong with the British political system. Of course, there are a handful of decent and honourable men and woman whose reputations are without taint. But there are very few of them. And, of course, it is unfair to blame all of this on New Labour and Tony Blair. There have always been a handful of bad apples in politics, such as the Tory MP Neil Hamilton in the 1990s or the bent Labour minister John Stonehouse in the 1970s. And some of today's biggest cheats are on the Tory benches, or in the Liberal Democrats. Indeed, only four days ago it emerged that no fewer than four LibDem MPs have been ordered to make apologies to the Commons and repay money they have misappropriated in connection with a property deal in London's Dolphin Square.

    So it is now certain that the stench of sleaze will dominate the coming General Election. But the question on which the health of British democracy depends is this: can David Cameron get rid of this culture of corruption if he becomes Prime Minister in May? The signs are mixed. On the one hand, Cameron himself, unlike Gordon Brown who has been obliged to repay some £12,000 of taxpayers' money after making excessive claims for cleaning and gardening, is personally uncontaminated by the expenses scandal. Furthermore, Cameron has reacted to recent scandals much more quickly and vigorously than the Prime Minister. He has been much faster to crack down on the thieves and miscreants in Tory ranks than Brown has on Labour culprits. Indeed, Brown, along with his deeply compromised chief whip Nick Brown, has come to appear part of the problem rather than the solution.

    But there is a worrying side to Cameron as well. He has failed to sack key shadow cabinet members caught up in the sleaze crisis. For example, the Tory MP Francis Maude has been at the forefront of calling for a fullscale government inquiry into the grotesque conduct of Byers, Hoon and Hewitt. Yet Maude is a notorious expenses cheat, who ripped off tens of thousands of pounds from the British taxpayer. Despite this proven lack of integrity, Cameron has awarded Maude the vital task of preparing the Conservatives for government.

    There was also a very disturbing example of hypocrisy from the Tory leader on Monday when he denounced government lobbying. And yet Cameron himself worked as a lobbyist for the television company Carlton Communications and retains many close friends in the lobbying business, of whom the most troubling is the egregious spinmeister Matthew Freud. So there are many reasons for doubting David Cameron's sincerity - and fearing that the only real change after the General Election will be a switch from Labour corruption to Tory corruption. But this week it is Labour that has the toughest questions to answer. Gordon Brown, to his credit, has suspended Hoon, Byers and Hewitt from the Labour whip in the Commons.

    This move, however, raises more questions than it answers. If disgraced Hoon has been forced out of the Labour Party, why on earth is he being allowed to act as a British adviser to Nato? Shockingly, on Monday night, Hoon seemed to say on camera that he was ready to pass the privileged information that he has acquired as a result of his Nato work on to private clients - in return, of course, for a generous fee. He told a Channel 4 reporter posing as a lobbyist that he was happy to talk 'in strategic terms about the relationship between Nato at the higher level and national defence policy'. This kind of offer from a former British Defence Secretary smacks of more than mere corruption. It stinks of treason. British public life has not been so corrupt since the days of --rotten boroughs, when Parliamentary seats were in the pockets of patrons, before being abolished as part of the 1832 Reform Act.

    And if Hoon and Byers have been suspended from the Labour Party because of their lobbying activities, where does that leave Tony Blair - the man under whose aegis this degradation of our democracy occurred? For the moment there are plans for Blair, if he can get his snout out of the trough, to play a prominent role in Labour's election campaign. If he is to be consistent, Brown must tell Blair that he is no longer welcome in the Labour Party.

  • Brussels journalist tries to arrest Tony Blair and detain him over 'war crimes'
  • Blair's earnings cloaked in a permanent veil of secrecy
  • Boss of Korean firm that gave Tony Blair secret cash was jailed for bribery
  • Taxpayers foot £273,000 bill to protect Tony Blair at Iraq inquiry
    westminster pirates
  • Labour suspends three ex-ministers over lobbying claims
  • Stephen Byers and the sad ghost of new Labour
  • Public confidence requires an inquiry into claims of cash for influence
    The British Airways strike shows how Chief Executive's and British management in general can , come election time, create so much unrest within companies that they ensure an election victory for tory toffs like Cameron .

    Throughout history, sinister secret forces have been acting behind the scenes to ensure ever more right wing governments are elected, protecting the interests of over-valued senior management only in positions of power, not through their entrepreneurial skills, but through their masonic connections , alliances and membership.

    The tories are a hard line masonic backed party who have used every trick in the book to fool, time and again, the unsuspecting public into allowing them to follow a hard line political agenda in the UK were VAST inequality ensures their rich political donors agenda is followed to a TEE. Britain, before Blair, did have an alternative party in Labour that was highjacked by public school boy twatties like Brown and Darling who started to seek political donations from rich Zionists, just like the Tories had been doing for centuries. It leaves the electorate in a right muddle when all the major media outlets push these two MAJOR political parties (only because of that mass media promotion) as the only parties worthy of our vote . The endless political propaganda created by the British media , almost totally controlled by the same twatties and toffs, have been brainwashing the public into believing the UK has some sort of democracy. If that means voting for political goons all serving the same master then that is a very warped form of democracy, ensuring little will be done for the vast areas of poverty and deprivation that this political charade has created and failed to correct.

    Until the public are made fully aware of these political plots and facades and DEMAND change we will have MUCH more of the same. Political goons like Cameron shouting for 'CHANGE' really means more of the same devious and dangerous policies that ensure him and his Eton buddies will continue to control the city for the British royals ad infinitum.

    Former PM's deals are revealed as his earnings since 2007 reach £20million

    Tony Blair waged an extraordinary two-year battle to keep secret a lucrative deal with a multinational oil giant which has extensive interests in Iraq. The former Prime Minister tried to keep the public in the dark over his dealings with South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation. Mr Blair - who has made at least £20million since leaving Downing Street in June 2007 - also went to great efforts to keep hidden a £1million deal advising the ruling royal family in Iraq's neighbour Kuwait. In an unprecedented move, he persuaded the committee which vets the jobs of former ministers to keep details of both deals from the public for 20 months, claiming it was commercially sensitive. The deals emerged yesterday when the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments finally lost patience with Mr Blair and decided to ignore his objections and publish the details.

    News of the secret deals fuelled fresh accusations that Mr Blair is 'cashing in on his contacts' from the controversial Iraq war in what one MP called 'revolving door politics at its worst'. They will increase concerns that Mr Blair is using his role as the West's Middle East envoy for personal gain. The revelations also shed fresh light on his astonishing earnings, which include lucrative after-dinner speaking, consultancies with banks and foreign governments, a generous advance for his forthcoming memoirs, as well as the pension and other perks he enjoys as a former Prime Minister. The full extent of his income is cloaked in secrecy because he has constructed a complex web of shadowy companies and partnerships which let him avoid publishing full accounts detailing all the money from his commercial ventures.

    Critics also point out that a large proportion of his earnings comes from patrons in America and the Middle East - a clear benefit from forging a close alliance with George Bush during his invasion of Iraq. Last night Tory MP Douglas Carswell said of Mr Blair's links to UI Energy Corporation: 'This doesn't just look bad, it stinks. 'It seems that the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been in the pay of a very big foreign oil corporation and we have been kept in the dark about it. 'Even now we do not know what he was paid or what the company got out of it. We need that information now.

    'This is revolving door politics at its worst. It's not as if Mr Blair has even stepped back from politics, because he is still politically active in the Middle East. 'I'm afraid I have no confidence at all in the committee that vets these appointments. It's no good telling us these deals may be commercially sensitive - we are talking about the appointment of our former Prime Minister and the public interest, rather than any commercial interests, must come first.' Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said: 'These revelations show that our former Prime Minister is for sale - he is driven by making as much money as possible. 'I think many people will find it deeply insensitive that he is apparently cashing in on his contacts from the Iraq war to make money for himself.'

    The committee said yesterday that Mr Blair had taken a paid job advising a consortium of investors led by UI Energy in August 2008. The exact nature of the deal is unknown, but UI Energy is one of the biggest investors in Iraq's oil-rich Kurdistan region, which became semi-autonomous in the wake of the Iraq war. Mr Blair's fee has not been disclosed but is likely to have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. The secrecy is particularly odd because UI Energy is fond of boasting of its foreign political advisers, who include the former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke and several prominent American politicians. Mr Blair successfully persuaded the committee that the appointment was 'market sensitive' and could not be made public.

    The committee agreed to suspend its normal practice and keep the deals secret for three months. Mr Blair then asked for a further extension. When this ran out last year the committee repeatedly 'chased' Mr Blair about the issue without hearing anything. Eventually the committee's chairman, former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Lang, reviewed the papers and ordered the deal to be made public, along with a separate deal with Kuwait which had been kept secret at the request of the Kuwaiti government. The decision to keep the deals secret will fuel concerns about the effectiveness of the committee, which has been repeatedly criticised for its failure to halt the revolving door between politics and industry. The committee is supposed to ease public concerns about former public servants using their contacts for private gain.

    Ministers have to have all jobs vetted within two years of leaving office. But the committee is packed with former politicians and Whitehall grandees and is thought never to have banned a former minister or senior civil servant from taking up a lucrative job in the private sector. Earlier this month the Government quietly rejected calls for the committee to be beefed up with more figures from outside the world of politics. Gordon Brown has so far refused to answer questions about whether Mr Blair's arrangements breach his responsibilities under the ministerial code. A spokesman for Mr Blair said last night: '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.'

  • Blair's earnings cloaked in a permanent veil of secrecy
  • Boss of Korean firm that gave Tony Blair secret cash was jailed for bribery
  • Taxpayers foot £273,000 bill to protect Tony Blair at Iraq inquiry
    Why is uncontrolled greed so prevalent in corporate rooms?
    Why do wicked men wage wars of aggression and become indifferent to the killing of innocent people?
    Why does materialism seem to trump everything else?
    Why do we have the uneasy feeling that our society is going in the wrong direction?

    The very fact that we have to raise such questions may be a sign of the times.

    Indeed, when the stench of moral decay becomes overwhelming, bad things inevitably follow. Historically, it can be shown that when the moral environment in a society is deteriorating, problems tend to pile up.

    We are presently living in one of those times, characterized by deep and entrenched political corruption, by routine abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law in high places, and by unchecked greed, fraud and deception in the economic sphere. The results are all there to see: Severe and prolonged economic and financial crises, rising social inequalities and social injustice, increasing intolerance toward individual choices, the disregard for environmental decay, the rise of religious absolutism, a return to whimsical wars of aggression (or of pre-emptive wars), to blind terrorism and to the repugnant use of torture, and even to genocide and to blatant war crimes. These are all indicators that our civilization has lost its moral compass.

    With all these throwbacks to an unpalatable past, it is not surprising there is a resurgence of interest nowadays for questions of morality and of ethics. The contradiction between modern problems, new scientific knowledge and the inadequacy of our prevalent source of morality or of ethics, which are mainly religion-based, has led a humanist like me to write a book, “The Code for GLOBAL ETHICS, Ten Humanist Principles”, [ISBN: 978-1616141721] prefaced by Dr. Paul Kurtz and published this year by Prometheus Books. The book is a down-to-earth discussion of ten basic humanist principles for our new global context.

    Why such a renewed interest in the moral dimension of things? —First, partly because many of our problems and threats are not only severe but they have also become global in nature. —Second, the fact that we seem to be unable to solve our global problems might also be because our scientific and technological progress is advancing much faster than our moral progress, with the consequence that problems arise faster than our moral ability to face them and to solve them. —And third, this is also partly due to the fact that the old religion-based rules of morality are of little help in solving these new problems, basically because they belong to the past and because, unfortunately, they have not incorporated new scientific knowledge. Indeed, humans' vision of themselves in the Universe has been forever altered by three fundamental scientific breakthroughs:

    - Galileo's proof, in 1632, that the Earth and humans were not the center of the Universe, as suppposed holy books have proclaimed.

    - Darwin's discovery, in 1859, (“On the Origin of Species”) that humans are not some god-like creatures unique among all species, destined to live forever, but are rather the outcome of a very long natural biological evolution.

    - And, the Watson-Crick-Wilkins-Franklin's discovery, in 1953, of the structure of the double helix DNA molecule (Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid) in each of the 46 chromosomes in human cells, and the devastating knowledge that humans share more than 95 percent of the same genes with chimpanzees.

    I would add, also, that ongoing research about how the human brain functions has cast new light on how some phenomena, such as different thoughts, including religious thoughts, are generated in different zones of the brain. Therefore, nobody can claim anymore that the Earth is the center of the Universe; nobody can claim that humans are unique in the scale of things; and nobody can claim that the human body and the human mind are two unrelated entities. This knowledge has tremendous consequences for our moral stance. My best hope is that we will avoid falling back into an age of obscurantism and of decadence, and that we will be able to build a truly humanist civilization for the future.

  • Bliar Lord Of The Lies
    child migrants This is NOT ONLY an historic problem as even today the SAME mindset operates in British courts and with the Crown's judicial mafia destroying families and their children in a draconian legal system

    Child migrants: A group of British children pictured in 1953 at Melrose House near Parramatta in New South Wales (left).

    Brown to make historic apology to thousands of British children sent to colonies

    Gordon Brown is set to apologise tomorrow for the UK's role in sending tens of thousands of children to former colonies where they suffered terrible abuse. The Prime Minister is due to express the Government's regrets over the child migrants programme in a statement to the House of Commons. Under the scheme, which ran from the 1920s to the 1960s, an estimated 150,000 poor youngsters aged between three and 14 were sent to a 'better life' in Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada. However, many ended up being abused in foster homes, state-run orphanages and religious institutions. Children were often told their parents were dead, while parents were given very little information about where their offspring were going.

    Survivors have told how on arrival they were separated from brothers and sisters, and subjected to brutal physical and sexual abuse by those who were meant to be caring for them. The premier's spokesman said the issue is something he feels strongly about. Mr Brown announced he was planning to apologise in November when Australia's prime minister Kevin Rudd said sorry for his country's part in the tragedy.

    The United Kingdom is the only country with a sustained history of child migration, spread over four centuries. As early as 1618, 100 children were sent from London to Richmond, Virginia. Britain's High Commissioner to Australia, Baroness Amos, said in a statement last week that the apology would be an 'important milestone'. 'Over the past few months I have met many whose lives were blighted, and heard their personal stories,' she said.

    'We want not just to bear witness to the past but to look forward to a future where these terrible events will not be repeated.' Harold Haig, Secretary of the International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families, said: 'For many former child migrants and their families, the apology will help to heal a painful past.' The wording of the apology by Mr Brown is believed to have been discussed with charities representing former child migrants and their families.

    Sixty survivors have apparently been flown to London so they can listen to the statement in person. The PM is also expected to make an announcement about future support for those affected.

    bailiff Labour seizing homes while offices in Whitehall are empty

    Labour was today accused of "rank hypocrisy" over new laws to seize private property as it emerged that scores of government-owned homes and acres of Whitehall office space are lying vacant. New research showed that ministerial grace-and-favour flats - including palatial apartments for the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary - are unoccupied. The Highways Agency also has 103 homes empty for more than six months, with six habitable houses vacant for more than 12 years.

    New Parliamentary answers re- vealed that Whitehall has a further 260,000 sq ft of empty office space - equivalent to 62 acres of vacant rooms - largely because civil servants have moved out of London. The state's failure to use its own properties was in sharp contrast to "draconian" new legal orders and should abolish the Empty Dwelling Management Orders, which give town halls the power to seize private homes that lie empty for as little as six months.

    At EDMO hearings councils have tried to seize the home of a blind man, grab an old man's house as soon as he died in a nursing home, and confiscate the home of a mother caring for her injured daughter in France. However, EDMOs cannot be used against government property.

    "It is a scandal that homes owned by the Government lie empty for years, while bully-boy laws let state bureaucrats seize the homes of the dead and vulnerable. "It's the height of Labour hypocrisy.We will scrap these draconian powers. Instead focus on renting or selling off the inefficient acres of government real estate. This will save taxpayers' money and put more homes on the market." Empty government properties include: The Foreign Secretary's Grade I-listed flat in Carlton Gardens, vacant since 2007 as David Miliband prefers to live at home in Primrose Hill.

    David Blunkett's former grace-and- favour flat, empty since April 2007 and recently occupied by squatters. Three Admiralty House flats - for Lord Malloch Brown, Lord Falconer and Geoff Hoon - costing £173,000 a year each to run. Ministers refuse to rent them out to civil servants. Mr Shapps said the Tories would open up Whitehall databases of surplus land and buildings to public inspection and transfer all central government property into publicly owned asset companies.

    newlabourrats I'd love to see the benefit cheat ­advertisements remodelled, to target public sector expenses fraud. You could have a lord, ­pegging out the washing, and then big, scary writing … "You in the wig! We're on to you. Your mother's house in Carmarthenshire is not your primary residence … You do not spend £174 a day in legitimate expenses … One day soon, we're going to be very peeved."

    Of all the cheats civilisation can conceive – from MPs through dodgy tax-domicilers, insider dealers and hedge-fund scamsters to cheats so rotten with bad faith that they nearly brought down global finance before anybody stopped to think whether or not they should be illegal – nobody gets it stuck to them worse than the person who did a night cash-in-hand in the pub, as well as claiming jobseeker's allowance. Benefit cheats might account for 6,000 prosecutions a year, but their cost to society – an estimated £1.1bn annually – is considerably less than the combined loss, to the benefits office, caused by honest mistakes (£1.1bn in punter-error, £800m in mistakes committed by the Department for Work and Pensions). It's interesting, isn't it, that the DWP makes that many errors in its own system: it must be pretty complicated. In fact, it's so complicated that means-tested benefits, combined with means-tested tax credits, go unclaimed to the sum of £16bn. For every pound you spend, ­taxpayer, on the dishonest underclass, you save nearly £16 by virtue of bureaucracy so complicated that neither the underclass nor the overclass can understand it. What a result! It's all so obvious, it sounds like 1980s agitprop. I'll be on about single mothers next, and how most of them are doing a really good job.

    It's not, however, so obvious that Labour's manifesto team isn't re-examining the issue, really trying to think outside the box of human decency and push the envelope way past out of order, all the way to "are you kidding?". Jim Murphy, the Scottish secretary, has suggested to Ed Miliband, Labour's manifesto co-ordinator, that people who inform on benefit cheats should get a share of any cash saved. This probably won't even make it as an election promise: they just leaked it so they could sound like tough guys, talking turkey with the Tories. "Huh! Remember that soppy liberal you couldn't stand? We binned him! Adios old Labour, goodbye New – hello Hard Labour. Feel my pecs." I've heard nothing from any party that sounds more like the Stasi. How much more old Labour can you get? Since it probably isn't serious, should we even bite? But this kind of "initiative" is not just a short cut to an image makeover. Critics have said already that, were this measure to be introduced, it would unpick social cohesion and encourage neighbourly mischief rather than meaningful snitching. But this is to pass over the social dissonance that is created even before policy is drafted, when politicians engage in this coarse, wilfully ignorant rabble-rousing.

    Numerous studies have established that people greatly overestimate the cost of benefit cheating, both absolutely and compared to white-collar crime. It has been found that people across the political spectrum are more judgmental towards the very poor than they were 20 years ago, often inaccurately assuming them to be lazier and more fiscally ­coddled than in fact they are. "The extent to which people manage to fiddle the system to their own advantage is greatly overstated in popular imagination and fed by the tabloid press. But you only need one well-documented case to damage confidence." That was John Denham, the Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, commenting just before the Labour conference last year. It's not just the tabloids, though, is it? They get quite a lot of help from the top ranks of the party in government. And it's not really one well-documented case. More like an amorphous mass of feckless, poor people that Hard Labour is going to get really, really tough on. On the same day as this supergrass wheeze was leaked, a Populus poll, commissioned by the Times, found that 70% of voters believe Britain is now broken; three-fifths of respondents said they "hardly recognised the country they're living in"; and 42% would emigrate if they could.

    In fairness, much of this "broken" rhetoric was started by David Cameron. You can tell because, when you bite it for authenticity, like a jeweller from the olden days, it turns out to have no meaning at all. But a more courageous government wouldn't even get into this landscape the Tories insist upon, where the feral unemployed run riot in town centres while their unmarried babymothers leech bennies off the state to spend on cigarettes and Diamond White. A government of integrity and coherence would insist upon sticking to the facts: that the cheats are offset by the people who don't claim, so the benefits bill is nothing like the spiralling cashfest it's made out to be; that benefit cheats are not the scourge of the economy, their numbers are not huge, and their crimes are not major; and even the real eye-openers – the football referee on disability benefit, the couple claiming housing benefit for numerous addresses – are notable for their perversity, not to mention rarity. This is Primark policy-making: it looks cheap, and it is cheap. But it's not free and it's not victimless.

    Its a small miracle that anyone working for Britains corrupt crown would be charged.We can only wait and see what if any punishment is dished out, as ever these things are seldom dealt with properly when its political crooks they are supposedly punishing.

    Prosecutors charged three Labour MPs and a Conservative peer with false accounting on Friday over alleged abuses of the parliamentary expenses system. They are Labour's Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine and Paul White, Lord Hanningfield. "In four cases, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges and that it is in the public interest to charge the individuals concerned," said Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer in a televised statement. Morley is a former environment minister. He faces two charges of dishonest claims for mortgage expenses. Chaytor faces three charges of dishonest claims, while Devine faces two charges for making claims based on false invoices.

    The BBC reported that the three had issued a joint statement denying the charges and vowing to "defend our position robustly." White faces six charges, centred on numerous claims for overnight expenses for staying in London when records show he was driven home and did not spend the night in London. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

    While only four legislators face criminal charges, the scandal over parliamentary expenses has tainted several hundred MPs. An official report released on Thursday found that 390 of them had filed excessive expense claims between 2004 and 2009 and should pay pack a total of over a million pounds. Many of the claims were for household items deemed trivial by auditors, but some MPs stand accused of more serious abuses such as "flipping," or changing which house they declared as their main home in order to maximise second home allowances.

    steph booth Cherie Blair's stepmother was branded a "f****** b****" and her relatives "sneered at" after whistle-blowing about a "chaotic" charity where she worked as a teacher, an employment tribunal heard today.

    Steph Booth was accompanied by Tony Booth, the father of the former prime minister's wife, at the hearing in Manchester against her former employers, Cool UK Ltd, based in Burnley and Manchester. Mrs Booth worked as a teacher for the charity which offered a "radical and experimental alternative" to traditional education to help teenagers excluded from school by teaching them vocational subjects such as health and beauty, construction and vehicle maintenance. But she claimed the organisation, contracted by local education authorities, was "chaotic and unprofessional", said staff were unqualified, some bought and downloaded porn on the premises and one worker there was even jailed then considered for re-employment.

    When she raised the issues with the charity's boss, Gareth Binding, she was constantly brushed off then subjected to a campaign of victimisation for whistle-blowing, she said. Mrs Booth, who has been selected to stand as a Labour candidate for the Calder Valley constituency in West Yorkshire in the next election, also said Mr Binding tried to destroy her reputation and credibility by writing letters which were seen by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Matters came to a head with her boss at a stormy management meeting in February last year.

    "Mr Binding's behaviour towards me was aggressive and derogatory in front of colleagues," she told the tribunal. "In fact he said I was a f****** b*****.

    "My accent and my education and my relatives were all sneered at. Mr Binding had demonstrated he had no intention of addressing any of my concerns." She then went sick before being made redundant a month later, just under a year after joining the charity in April 2008. Mrs Booth said she was assaulted by one female pupil, but there were no proper health and safety policies.

    Buildings were cold and unsuitable for youngsters and the charity was "failing" the children it was supposed to be teaching, she said. One worker was accused of being a "ringleader" in regularly buying porn at the Burnley unit, but when she complained Mr Binding said she was just being "fussy". Another member of staff, who she claimed had downloaded porn, was jailed for driving whilst disqualified but it was then considered he should be re-employed after leaving jail because he would be desperate for a job and accept a pay cut, she said.

    After she left the charity Mr Binding then tried to "sabotage" her campaign to be selected to stand for Labour in Calder Valley she said, by writing a series of letters questioning her suitability as an MP. Some were sent to the party's ruling National Executive Committee, while others went straight to the top, she said.

    "He wished to victimise, punish and discredit me," she said. "One letter was copied to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and one was addressed to the Prime Minister directly." Mrs Booth is claiming unfair dismissal, breach of contract and suffering detriment or dismissal due to exercising her rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act and on health and safety grounds. Mrs Booth married Mrs Blair's actor father in 1998, a year after Tony Blair's New Labour swept to power.


    A select group of quangocrats are earning up to £5,000 a day for part-time work on state agencies, authorities and commissions, research reveals. Among them are quango 'kings and queens' who jump from state job to state job with the help of Government patronage. The report found that nearly 1,000 individuals made an average of £356 a day last year from their state-appointed positions as board members of public bodies.

    Among them 92 quango chairmen earned on average £642 a day - with the best-paid, Sir Callam McCarthy of the Financial Services Authority, taking home £4,972 a day. Quango board members regularly sit on more than one publicly-funded body, the TaxPayers' Alliance report found. It looked at 100 of the biggest quangos, which provide paid seats for 932 board members, including 96 chairmen.

    On average a quango chairman picked up £49,793 last year for a two or three-day week. Ben Farrugia of the TaxPayer's Alliance said: 'Our study suggests that instead of serving taxpayers' interests, some non- executive members and chairs may put their quango's interests first. 'Many senior figures are career quangocrats, moving from one quango to another.

    'With a pressing need to save money by cutting these quangos back, these individuals could be a serious barrier to any Government hoping to save money. 'Serious action needs to be taken to increase democratic control over quangos so they are genuinely accountable to ordinary people.' The report found that 1,620 people were appointed to places on the boards of quangos and NHS advisory bodies in the financial year that ended in March.

    One in six chairmen said they were politically active, with Labour supporters outnumbering Tories by more than eight to one. However, the report said that in the last year the Conservatives were in power, quango appointments-were skewed in the same way towards Tory supporters. On average, a quango board member took home £8,538 - mainly for attending occasional board meetings. Of the 932 quango board members, 47 served on more than one public body. The report said: 'Quango board appointments are something of a carousel, with members and chairs repeatedly moving from one board to another.'

    'Named and shamed'

    MPs called yesterday for public sector organisations who pay excessive salaries to managers to be 'named and shamed' by a Top Pay Commission, they said. The Commons Public Admininstration Select Committee said the watchdog should be created to police benchmarks for pay. It also called for public sector salaries and bonuses to be published, in the same way as those for private firms.

    taxpayers alliance Tory tax allies 'subsidised' by the taxpayer

    Taxpayers' Alliance accused of using charitable arm to claim gift aid on donations from wealthy backers Though the Taxpayers' Alliance denies it is a 'Conservative front organisation', it is influential in party circles: in October, George Osborne, above, proposed a public sectory pay freeze recommend a month earlier by the alliance.

    A campaign group which claims to represent the interests of ordinary taxpayers is using a charitable arm which gives it access to tax relief on donations from wealthy backers, the Guardian has learned. The Conservative-linked Taxpayers' Alliance, which campaigns against the misuse of public funds, has set up a charity under a different name which can secure subsidies from the taxman worth up to 40% on individuals' donations. In one example, Midlands businessmen said they channelled funds through the Politics and Economics Research Trust at the request of the Taxpayers' Alliance after they asked the campaign group to undertake research into policies which stood to damage their business interests. The arrangement allowed the Taxpayers' Alliance to benefit from Gift Aid on the donations, a spokesman for the donors said. Labour politicians attacked the apparent scheme as hypocritical, and tax accountants warned it could breach charity law, which states that organisations may not be charitable if they have political purposes. Regulators at the Charity Commission have opened several assessment cases and are scrutinising the arrangements.

    "The Taxpayers' Alliance appears to be exploiting the taxpayer rather than protecting their interests as they claim to do," said John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister. "This body ought not to be subsidised to pursue its political goals. They have now become properly the non-taxpayers' alliance." The Taxpayers' Alliance is one of the most influential pressure groups in the country and has established close links to the Conservative party frontbench. It campaigns for less waste in government and lower taxes, and earlier this year it emerged that it is funded by leading Tory donors. It claims to represent "a grassroots army of 32,000 supporters" but it has also emerged that a director of the alliance, Alexander Heath, does not pay British tax and lives in France. Its chief executive, Matthew Elliott, strongly denies the alliance is "a Conservative front organisation", but it is influential in Conservative circles. In October the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, proposed a public sector pay freeze which had been recommended a month earlier by the alliance, and Elliott, who describes himself as "a free-market libertarian", proposed that no public worker should earn more than the prime minister without the chancellor's approval before Osborne announced it. The Charity Commission's records show the charitable arm was established as the Taxpayers' Alliance Research Trust in 2007, before changing its name to the Politics and Economics Research Trust. Elliott is named as its main contact and the trustees include leading Taxpayers' Alliance supporter Patrick Barbour, the founder of Reform, a free-market thinktank which advocates lower tax and public spending. Until he became leader of the UK Independence party last month, Lord Pearson of Rannoch was also a trustee.

    The trust received donations worth £373,230 in 2008 and approved 29 grant proposals amounting to £278,520 with the stated aim "to advance the education of the public" and to "promote for the public benefit research into matters of public taxation, public policy, applied economics and political science". Unusually for a charitable trust, the accounts do not name the grant recipients. The Midlands Industrial Council, a powerful business group which has donated £1.5m to the Conservatives since 2003 and represents the owners of private companies in the car, haulage, property and construction industries, said it has donated both through the Taxpayers' Alliance, which as a company does not attract tax relief on donations, and the Politics and Economics Research Trust, which does. "The charitable arm is where specific projects are being researched on specific topics," said David Wall, the council's secretary. "We donated for work they were doing predominantly on congestion charging. When there was talk of it coming to Birmingham, we asked them to look into road charging to see what the likely effect would be on the haulage industry. We were asked for funding to the charity which means they can benefit from gift aid. I know that some industrialists made donations through the charitable arm."

    Asked about the impression that the alliance was in effect benefitting from a subsidy from taxpayers to carry out work funded by rich businessmen, Elliott declined to comment. "I will talk about the work of the Taxpayers' Alliance, I will talk about Christmas, but I don't want to talk about this," he said. "We are confident that our funding arrangements fall within the law and the guidance of the Charity Commission." The Charity Commission's guidelines on campaigning and political activity state that "an organisation will not be charitable if its purposes are political". It states that trustees must not allow the charity to be used as a vehicle for the expression of the political views of any individual trustee or staff member.

    A leading tax accountant said it was extraordinary that the alliance appeared to be benefitting from charitable tax relief. "Donors are typically saving tax on their contributions and so the government is chipping in between 20% and 40% to help the Taxpayers' Alliance with its work," said Mike Warburton, a tax specialist at Grant Thornton. "Your readers may be surprised that an organisation which argues for lower taxes and lower public spending is asking the government to do that for its research arm." The Charity Commission has opened several "assessment cases" prior to a possible investigation.

    mandy deri

    Lord Mandelson is facing a fresh inquiry into accusations that he did 'improper' favours for his Russian billionaire friend, Oleg Deripaska.

    A German MEP has demanded that the European Commission investigate what she claims is the Business Secretary's 'conflict of interest' when he twice lowered aluminium tariffs during his time as Brussels Trade Commissioner. Those moves directly benefited Mr Deripaska, whose company Rusal is the world's largest aluminium concern. Allies of Lord Mandelson say he was already a close friend of the controversial oligarch and had dinner at least twice with Mr Deripaska in Moscow in the year before the tariff was lowered in December 2005.

    The two men later discussed trade issues at one of Moscow's most exclusive restaurants and shared a holiday last year when Lord Mandelson stayed on Mr Deripaska's luxury yacht off Corfu. Both were dinner guests of billionaire financier Lord Rothschild and his son Nat at their luxurious home on the island. The potential conflict of interest arose because Rusal wanted the European Commission to exempt it from tariffs that had been placed on Russian and Chinese aluminium producers in 2001 after allegations they had been dumping cheap aluminium foil in Europe.

    Channel 4's Dispatches programme, to be broadcast on Monday, has uncovered a document which shows that on December 20, 2005, Lord Mandelson himself signed off the decision to exempt Rusal from these anti-dumping tariffs. German Christian Democrat Dr Ingeborg Graessle is now planning to make Lord Mandelson's involvement with Mr Deripaska a centrepiece of a review she is conducting into the code of conduct for EU commissioners. While Lord Mandelson was a commissioner he had no legal requirement to declare potential conflicts of interest, but Dr Graessle wants that changed. She is demanding a probe of the trade deals overseen by Lord Mandelson so better rules can be drawn up.

    Shown the paper that proves Lord Mandelson signed off the decision himself, Dr Graessle said: 'This is a completely improper doing. When you have a close friend who profits from your decision, what else can you say but that it is a conflict of interest?' Dr Graessle said Lord Mandelson would have protected himself from claims of impropriety by declaring his friendship with Mr Deripaska. 'I think that he should have declared it and we don't see that these declarations,' she said. 'We cannot exclude that this personal relationship influences the decisions he has to take as a commissioner.'

    Lord Mandelson has always maintained that he played no role in the decision. His spokesman said yesterday that those who have argued that he could have withdrawn from the process 'do not understand how Brussels works'. He said: 'A German MEP saying this comes as no surprise. Germany fought tooth and nail against the lifting of aluminium tariffs which were hitting Italy and many other member states. 'This had nothing to do with Russia and in the end a compromise was struck, not by Peter, but by the member states themselves.'

    It is the second time in the space of a week that the deputy prime minister in all but name has faced embarrassing disclosures about his friendships with the wealthy. Lord Mandelson enraged relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims when it emerged he was recently a guest with Colonel Gaddafi's son at a shooting weekend hosted by billionaire financier Lord Rothschild and his son Nat at their French-style chateau in Buckinghamshire. Saif Al Islam Gaddafi flew the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi home to a hero's welcome.

    rothschild visa