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The Telegraph

Exclusive: Cherie Blair’s legal firm hired by Serbian government

Cherie Blair’s legal firm has been awarded a contract to defend an ‘autocratic’ regime that receives advice from her husband’s company. Mrs Blair’s firm, Omnia Strategy, has been hired by Serbia over allegations the Balkan State is harassing an independent television and internet company, in an attempt by the ruling party to “tighten its grip on power”. Tony Blair, through the eponymous Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, has been advising Serbia for the past six years. The contract was originally funded by the United Arab Emirates. Last night the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change insisted neither they nor Mr Blair played “any role” in securing the contracts for Mrs Blair’s law firm, saying she is a “well established lawyer” whose firm “has clients all over the world”. Mrs Blair’s involvement with Serbia was made public in legal documents seen by The Telegraph. It lists the barrister as the first point of contact in the dispute and identifies five other individuals working for her at her law firm Omnia Strategy, which is based in a townhouse in central London. It is unclear what Omnia’s legal costs will be to the Serbian taxpayer but Mrs Blair, a QC and former part-time judge who made her name as a human rights lawyer, is known to charge more than £1,000 per hour for her legal services. It is not the first time Mrs Blair’s firm has undertaken legal work for governments who are separately advised by her husband’s company The Telegraph previously disclosed how Omnia Strategy agreed a deal worth hundreds of thousands of pounds with Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice to conduct a review of the country’s “bilateral investment treaties”. The deal in 2014 came three years after Mr Blair began advising the country’s autocratic ruler Nuruklstan Nazarbayev in a deal worth millions of pounds. The Telegraph reported how Mr Blair’s organisation gave Mr Nazarbayev advice on how to manage his image after the deaths of 14 unarmed civilians shot and killed while protesting against his regime. Since 2017, Omnia has also provided legal support to the Gambian government in an oil dispute. Mr Blair’s institute also works with the Gambian government. According to its website, Omnia “is an official adviser on international arbitrations to the Government of Rwanda”. The Tony Blair Institute has been providing official “strategic advice” to the Rwandan government since 2008 and Mr Blair is close to President Paul Kagame, who has been frequently accused of political repression and human rights abuses during his 20-year rule.

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