Cherie Blair: I did not lobby on behalf of Qatari royal

Hillary Clinton

I’ve rarely read a more sensationalist and inaccurate story (Blair’s 19 emails urging Clinton to meet Qatari royal, 2 July) in the Guardian than the one concerning my email exchange with Hillary Clinton about a meeting with Sheikha Mozah.

You write that over a four-month period in 2009, I “repeatedly” emailed Hillary Clinton, “urging” her “to carve out a space in her busy diary to meet Mozah”. In fact, Hillary agreed to the meeting immediately – as the full transcript of the emails shows. There was no “urging” or “lobbying”.

In my first email, I had asked Hillary Clinton if meeting Sheikha Mozah – at her request – was “something you’re prepared to do”. Hillary replied the following day, saying: “I am very interested in talking with the Sheikha.” All the subsequent emails that passed between us were simply trying to sort out a mutually convenient date and place to enable this to happen.

I only got to know Sheikha Mozah through my work with Scope, the disability charity of which I am patron. I have visited Qatar several times as its representative, to speak on their behalf at the annual international conference held at the Shafallah Centre for Children with Special Needs in Doha, of which Sheikha Mozah is both founder and patron. Not surprisingly, during these visits, because of our shared interest in disability, I had got to know Sheikha Mozah. So when, in 2009, she asked me if I would contact Hillary Clinton to say she was keen to meet her “woman to woman”, ie outside normal diplomatic channels, I saw absolutely no reason not to agree.

To say that this harmless exchange reveals the behaviour of a “professional lobbyist”, and imply it was somehow scandalous, is innuendo worthy of the Daily Mail.
Cherie Blair

Powered by article was written by Letters, for The Guardian on Friday 3rd July 2015 19.04 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010