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Leaked email shows Tony Blair called on Gaddafi to hide and avoid capture

Former UK prime minister called on Gaddafi to find a 'safe place to go'
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) chats with Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as they walk together after talks on the outskirts of Tripoli

Tony Blair advised Muammar Gaddafi, the late leader of Libya, to flee in order to avoid capture or death during the Libyan uprisings of 2011, emails from Hillary Clinton obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) have revealed.

The former UK prime minister apparently called on Gaddafi to flee to a “safe place” in order to end violence on Libya’s streets.

"The absolute key thing is that the bloodshed and violence must stop,” the email quotes Blair as saying to Gaddafi. "If you have a safe place to go then you should go there, because this will not end peacefully unless that happens and there has to be a process of change. That process of change can be managed and we have to find a way of managing it.

"I have talked to people and everyone wants a peaceful end to this."

He added that the EU and US were in a “tough position” over the conflict in Libya, which eventually saw UN-backed NATO airstrikes help rebels topple Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.

"If people saw the leader standing aside they would be content with that,” wrote Blair. “If this goes on for another day/two days we will go past the point. I'm saying this because I believe it deeply. If we can't get a way through/out very quickly this will go past the point of no return."

Gaddafi was eventually killed by rebels in Misrata in October 2011, an event which was eventually posted in videos and pictures on the internet.

The revelation of Blair’s discussion with Gaddafi is likely to increase pressure on the former Middle East peace envoy to give evidence to a British parliamentary inquiry into the UK’s relationship with Libya.

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, has previously said he would like Blair to appear before his committee following the publication of a new biography of Prime Minister David Cameron which claims that Gaddafi attempted to "cut a deal" with Britain.

Cameron eventually ordered air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya.

Libya has been in a state of unrest since the overthrow of Gaddafi, with two competing parliaments in the east and west of the country vying for power and recognition, and various militias competing for control of cities and the country's vast oil wealth.

In addition, the Islamic State (IS) established a foothold in the country in 2015, raising fears about Libya becoming a hub for militant activity.

Prior to the war in Libya, Blair and Gaddafi had established cordial ties, with potential lucrative oil contracts opening up for British firms.

A letter revealed to the press in January this year and written in 2007 appeared to show Blair apologising for failing to deport from the UK two members of the opposition Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

"With regret, I should let you know that the British government has not been successful in its recent court case here involving deportation to Libya," Blair told Gaddafi. "I am very disappointed by the court's decision."

"I believe it is essential that this decision is not allowed to undermine the effective bilateral co-operation which has developed between the United Kingdom and Libya in recent years.

"We have made such progress. It is important, for the good of both our peoples, that we continue to do so, not least in the crucial area of counter-terrorism."