From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Tony Blair lambasted by former employee over role in own charity
Tony Blair Faith Foundation rejects claims by former website editor that patron had ‘inescapable’ role in charity operations
Rowena Mason, political correspondent
Sunday 3 August 2014 19.19 BST
Martin Bright, a former website editor for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, wrote about his five-month job in an article for the Mail on Sunday, saying there was much that was “puzzling or frankly weird” about the former prime minister’s web of charity and business interests.
In an account of his time running the foundation’s website about religion and geopolitics, he said Blair continues to use a ministerial-style “red box” for his urgent correspondence and was a strong presence at the charity.
“But it was clear from the outset that his tanned, expensively dressed presence was inescapable. He was the main draw for potential funders and his reputation was to be protected at all costs. This sometimes made things complicated. Long meetings were held to decide our position on Iraq in the light of the forthcoming Chilcot inquiry or how we would approach the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Bright also raised questions about why a small charity needed to occupy “ritzy offices in a West End tower block” as well as employing a five-person communications department “whose sole aim seemed to be to say as little as possible”.
The journalist, who has worked for many publications, including the Guardian and is now freelance, said he resigned after beginning to feel doubts about being at the organisation, which he said spent “huge amounts of time ensuring the website didn’t embarrass Blair“.
“Blair‘s increasingly strident position on the world stage clearly is affecting the ability of his charities to work independently,” he wrote. “I always found Tony himself engaging, committed and utterly genuine in his belief that we need a better understanding of the role religion plays in global conflict.
“But something always jarred about the grandness of it all. He doesn’t do humility and nor do his organisations. Perhaps that’s his tragedy.”
Bright also questioned the foundation’s decision to go on a trip funded by an organisation linked to Saudi Arabia’s repressive regime, why it banned his department from using Twitter, and its use of unpaid interns.
“My suggestion that people should be paid for their work did not go down well. I was told I needed to get a better understanding of the charity’s ethos,” he wrote.
Bright said he was also blocked from publishing an article explaining the role the Foreign Office had played in legitimising the Muslim Brotherhood during Jack Straw‘s time as foreign secretary under Blair’s leadership.