Jim Pickard Tony Blair’s contract for South Korean oil group

The Guardian* broke the story this morning about Blair’s latest business deal. Here is a link to the advisory committee on business appointments, confirming the news.

What’s interesting is that the former prime minister insisted that the deal had to be kept secret because of “market sensitivities”. So although the contract was carried out in August 2008 it only now appears in a public domain. The work was for UI Energy Corporation, a South Korean oil firm**.

Douglas Carswell, the Tory backbencher, tells me that he can’t understand why the committee allowed Blair to keep the deal secret for so long. Apparently the minimal information was only published after Ian Lang, the former Tory minister who chairs the committee, grew fed up with the delays.

Carswell says he wants to know what the Korean company was getting out of the contract: “They’re presumably not giving money for nothing,” he points out. “It’s disappointing that a committee of grandees was…arbitrarily deciding it doesn’t need to be disclosed for the best part of two years.”

* Although I’m not sure I accept that a “Guardian investigation last year found that he had put his multimillion-pound income through an obscure partnership structure called Windrush Ventures“. That story was first published in, er, the FT.

** According to its website, “the corporation is making progress in various overseas energy development projects in the North America, where many potential energy developments are, and the Middle East, such as Iraq and Africa”. But Blair’s office told the Guardian that the UI deal was not related to Iraq.

UPDATE

Michael White gives the case for why it’s no big deal.