The Ex-Shop Assistant Who Seduces PMs and Royalty; from Selling Suits in Piccadilly, Anthony Bailey Became an International Mr Fixit. Now His Friend Tony Blair May Find Him Very Useful after No 10

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 11, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Ex-Shop Assistant Who Seduces PMs and Royalty; from Selling Suits in Piccadilly, Anthony Bailey Became an International Mr Fixit. Now His Friend Tony Blair May Find Him Very Useful after No 10


OF ALL the influential friends keen to help Tony Blair map out his lucrative new career, few are better connected than Anthony Bailey. The suave and elegant Bailey is a master fixer.

His contacts range from the Vatican to Clarence House and include kings and princes, tycoons and world leaders.

When Bailey recently became engaged to Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg of Austria, Mr Blair dashed off a handwritten note of congratulation on 10 Downing Street stationery. "Dear

Anthony and Marie-Therese," he wrote.

"Many congratulations

it is wonderful news and I hope you will be marvellously happy together. Best wishes, yours ever, Tony." Mr Bailey can be relied upon to be among those who open doors for the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister. He has already engineered millions of pounds in donations for one of Mr Blair's pet projects and last year gave the cash-hungry Labour Party [pounds sterling]50,000.

Unhappily for Mr Bailey, the gift became rather controversial, because an earlier offer of a donation

for [pounds sterling]500,000

was rejected by the party amid concern that it was actually coming from abroad, which is strictly against the rules. Mr Bailey fiercely denied thesuggestion he might be acting as a conduit for some foreign person keen to gain favour with the political party ruling Britain. He said Tony Blair wrote to him to say the Labour Party did not leak the story of the rejected gift. In any event, he said, "the story is not true".

It was a messy affair, but Bailey, suave as ever, took it in his stride. After all, he is quite accustomed to controversy.

His career so far has seen him successfully defend an allegation of blackmail and revive an ancient chivalricorder, prompting hostility and suspicion that appear to echo parts of The Da Vinci Code.

Bailey is 37, the son of an engineer. He was brought up in Ruislip and among his first jobs was selling suits at the now defunct menswear store, Simpsons of Piccadilly. How he became a confidant of princes, cardinals and the British prime minister is a story of supreme chutzpah.

It's a quality Bailey has in spades. At the age of 13, he wrote to Russia's then leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to tell him what a good job he was doing. Then, as a student in London in the late 1980s, he managed to persuade King Michael of Romania to address the LSE. The deposed king, who hadn't given an interview since 1947, was won over by Bailey's charm.

More crowned heads were to follow. At a Buckingham Palace garden party, Prince Charles was seen to greet him like an old friend. Bailey has made a speciality out of dealing with royals. None of his friends was surprised when he announced his engagement to a princess.

He had always said his future wife would have to "feel at home in a palace".

But his involvement with a prince took him to the brink of disaster. In 1995, Bailey was working at public relations in London and among his clients was a prince from Libya's royal family. This attracted the attention of a man who claimed he was Libya's real crown prince and he asked Bailey to do PR work for him.

Bailey agreed on the basis that the man didn't call himself the crown prince, but a "senior spokesman" for the royal family of which he was indeed a member.

When he discussed payment, the "prince" contacted police and claimed Bailey was blackmailing him.

He was arrested in a dawn swoop on his Kensington flat. The police had arranged for his phone calls to the "prince" to be tape-recorded and he was charged with blackmail, an allegation he emphatically denied.

When the case went to court his QC, Desmond de Silva, said he had been set up because of the success of his work for the real crown prince. The case was thrown out and a relieved Bailey expressed his delight at having his name cleared. "There were some very sinister aspects to the case," he said. …

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