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A meeting between a dictator’s son and a senior Cabinet minister at a classic English shooting party revealed how deeply the Gaddafi regime wormed its way into the British Establishment.
The weekend took place in 2009 at Waddesdon Manor, the Buckinghamshire home owned by financier Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was a guest of financier Nat Rothschild and Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary who was virtual deputy to Gordon Brown. The peer and Saif are said to have got on well and met again at the Rothschild holiday home in Corfu, where Lord Mandelson stayed for a week and discussed the case of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who was freed days later.
Saif is Muammar Gaddafi’s third son and heir apparent. LSE educated, he owns a home in Hampstead with eight bedrooms, indoor pool, sauna and cinema. Last year Saif claimed Tony Blair was a “personal family friend” who had visited Libya many times, becoming an adviser to Colonel Gaddafi over the fund that manages Libya’s £65 billion oil wealth.
Other key business links include Sir Mark Allen, a former MI6 officer who moved into BP, and Margaret Thatcher’s former policy aide Lord Powell, whose companies have invested in Libyan hotels and offices.
The Gaddafi family is believed to have stashed most of its wealth in Dubai, south-east Asia and the Gulf, where banking is more secretive than in Britain. The Libyan Investment Authority owns three per cent of Pearson, which owns the Financial Times. Its property includes a retail complex in Oxford Street.