CHERIE, HUMAN RIGHTS HYPOCRITE; What Is Cherie Blair's 'Ethical' Law Firm Doing Making Huge Sums Representing a Banana Republic with a Dreadful Human Rights Record? and, Oh, Yes, the Money Was Paid by a Man Now Wanted by Interpol for Arms Trafficking, Terrorism and Corruption; INVESTIGATES

Daily Mail (London), February 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

CHERIE, HUMAN RIGHTS HYPOCRITE; What Is Cherie Blair's 'Ethical' Law Firm Doing Making Huge Sums Representing a Banana Republic with a Dreadful Human Rights Record? and, Oh, Yes, the Money Was Paid by a Man Now Wanted by Interpol for Arms Trafficking, Terrorism and Corruption; INVESTIGATES


Byline: Guy Adams

WHAT first attracted Cherie Blair to the wealthy dictator in charge of one of the world's most corrupt and repressive tax havens?

That was the question being asked last summer when the supposedly principled human rights lawyer unveiled her latest high-profile client.

His name was Abdulla Yameen, and while he might have boasted very deep pockets, he also happened to be an international pariah.

As President of the Maldives since 2013, Yameen presided over a kleptocratic government notorious for its systematic violations of democracy and human rights.

Around 1,700 political opponents had been chucked into prison since Yameen's disputed 2013 election. They included Mohammed Nasheed, Yameen's charismatic predecessor whose case was dubbed a 'travesty of justice' by Amnesty International and whose celebrity supporters ranged from Sir Richard Branson to Amal Clooney.

What made Cherie's choice of client so extraordinary was that she had always -- on paper, at least -- supposedly devoted her adult life to human rights and democracy.

As the Left-wing wife of a former Labour Prime Minister, she had missed few opportunities to try to give the public a rose-tinted view of her politically correct lobbying and legal work.

A sense of the image she wanted to project can be seen in the biographical profiles beneath expensive portrait photos on her two personal websites.

The profiles state that, as well as 'being involved with over 20 charities', the QC and former Judge has devoted her adult life to 'fighting for human rights in her professional career' and is 'a strong advocate for women's rights' and crusader on the subject of 'social responsibility'.

Yet here she was trying to further the interests of a government whose appetite for jailing dissidents had turned it into the Indian Ocean's premier banana republic.

So what was going on? Why had Mrs Blair, at 61, taken such a sordid job? One un-named former minister in her husband Tony's government recently ventured an interesting -- if controversial -- point of view.

'It always struck me that [Cherie] was insecure,' he told the Guardian newspaper. 'That is down to her background. Everything flows from that: the need for money.'

In other words, the ex-minister was suggesting, Cherie had cynically agreed to represent a despot because she fancied a fat pay cheque.

It's a theory which looks all the more compelling in light of two extraordinary secret documents which fell into the Mail's hands this week.

The first is an invoice that Cherie's firm, Omnia Strategy, sent to the Maldives government on August 24 last year.

It makes clear the firm expected a 'fixed fee' of PS420,000 -- to be paid in two PS210,000 tranches -- in return for six months of work. To put it another way, Ms Blair was prepared to abandon her treasured principles in return for PS70,000 per month for her firm, or just over PS2,000 a day.

That's a tidy fee for a working class girl from Liverpool -- even if it represents a mere fraction of her and her husband's estimated PS60 million net worth today.

Tony Blair, who since leaving office built much of that fortune doing business with a host of the world's most sleazy autocrats -- from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to Kuwait and Qatar -- would doubtless agree.

Intriguingly, the invoice we have seen for the first PS210,000 tranche contains a potted description of how Omnia actually earned this tainted money.

It states that the firm's duties consisted of helping the Yameen regime carry out 'strategic diplomacy, media training, international media relations, and the management of the international coverage' of a controversial decision to jail three highprofile dissidents.

Which surely means that Omnia was acting as the despotic regime's PR company.

There's nothing illegal about that (although some would view it as deeply immoral), but the fact is that in public Omnia has always described the work it has done for the Maldivian regime very differently. …

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CHERIE, HUMAN RIGHTS HYPOCRITE; What Is Cherie Blair's 'Ethical' Law Firm Doing Making Huge Sums Representing a Banana Republic with a Dreadful Human Rights Record? and, Oh, Yes, the Money Was Paid by a Man Now Wanted by Interpol for Arms Trafficking, Terrorism and Corruption; INVESTIGATES
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