Blair's fight to keep his oil cash secret: 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.

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