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Magda Hassan
10-15-2009, 01:13 PM
On 7 October 2009, Tony Blair gave a lecture at a New York university. In responding to an unexpectedly direct student question, he publicly joined, for the first time, the US and Israeli Zionist consensus rejecting the Goldstone report.

On 27 June 2007, Blair left his job as UK prime minister under the cloud of the war on Iraq that he had concocted with former US President George W. Bush. Just hours later, he assumed his new position as the Special Envoy to the Mideast Quartet (EU, Russia, UN, US). He had long been a Zionist and a member of Labor Friends of Israel, and he received heartfelt farewells-and-hellos from Ehud Olmert ("A true friend of the State of Israel") and Tzipi Livni ("a very-well appreciated figure in Israel" (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7071.shtml)). Palestinians living under Israeli occupation did not find this a very a promising development.

Though Blair spends only a week a month in the Middle East, he has managed to keep busy. He maintains a grueling, globe-trotting schedule of lectures, for which he receives up to $500,000. On top of this, he has been at work on his memoirs, for which he received a $7.3 million advance. Consulting work brought him $3.2 million (including a bonus) from J. P. Morgan Chase and $800,000 from Zurich Financial Services. By October 2008, he had amassed at least $19 million, far outdistancing even the enterprising Bill Clinton. He is thought to be the highest paid public speaker in the world.

Blair's schedule has caused some concern in the Middle East. His office insists that his "current role in the Middle East takes up the largest proportion of his time," but in late 2008, a Western diplomat in Jerusalem wondered if "his overstretchedness has produced a tactical blunder," while a UN official in Jerusalem said, "There is a general sense that he is not around" ("Lectures see Tony Blair earnings jump over #12 (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5034235.ece)," The Times, 29 October 2008). In September 2008, a coalition of Mideast aid groups accused the Quartet of "losing its grip," adding that its "failings could have serious ramifications for implementing international law around the globe" ("Aid groups: Tony Blair faces imminent failure in Middle East (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article4821634.ece)," The Times, 25 September 2008).

On 27 December 2008, Israel launched the Gaza massacre, which it dubbed "Operation Cast Lead." Eight days later, when asked about Blair's reaction, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown explained, "Tony's on holiday at the moment." While Blair found time to attend a private opening of the new Armani store in Knightsbridge, he found none to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, thus recalling his silence during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon ("As Gaza is torn apart by war, where is Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair? He's been on holiday (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1105250/As-Gaza-torn-apart-war-Middle-East-peace-envoy-Tony-Blair-Hes-HOLIDAY.html)," Daily Mail, 5 January 2009). In early January, Blair flew to Israel, but he did not condemn the Israeli assault. In February 2009, while Palestinians in Gaza were still digging themselves out and mourning their dead, he accepted a $1 million prize from Tel Aviv University as the "Laureate for the Present Time Dimension in the field of Leadership" (Press release (http://www1.tau.ac.il/pressoffice/english/index.php/press-releases/640-170209), 2009 Dan David Prize, 17 February 2009).

On 1 March 2009, he finally made it to Gaza. He conceded "a huge amount of damage" and the deaths of "large numbers of civilians," but rejected as "not very sensible" any discussion of disproportionality in Israel's attacks ("Blair shocked at devastation on first Gaza visit as envoy (http://news.scotsman.com/world/Blair-shocked-at-devastation-on.5027362.jp)," The Scotsman, 2 March 2009). Blair did not meet with Hamas leaders, and his visit to Gaza lasted only a few hours, for he had to make a pilgrimage to Sderot, the Gilad Shalit of western Negev settlements ("Middle East envoy Tony Blair in Gaza for first time (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/middle-east-envoy-tony-blair-in-gaza-for-first-time-1634887.html)," The Independent, 1 March 2009). In June, he visited Gaza a second time and, as proof of his deep humanitarian instincts, went so far as to say that the Palestinians were in a "tough situation" ("Former British PM Blair Visits Gaza Strip (http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2009-06/2009-06-15-voa8.cfm?CFID=299604445&CFTOKEN=22769630&jsessionid=003080ebec5b5ef77b8260607f111744d2e5)," Voice of America News, 15 June 2009).

On 15 September 2009, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, issued its 575-page report entitled "Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories (http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2009/09/15/UNFFMGCReport.pdf)." For three weeks after the Goldstone report's publication, Blair said nothing about it in public. Then, on 7 October 2009, he spoke at SUNY Buffalo (UB), where I teach, to a huge audience in the university's Distinguished Speakers Series. I didn't hear the lecture, for I was outside in a free speech corral (the first one to have appeared on my campus) with a group protesting Blair's invitation and his enormous lecture fee of $150,000, as confirmed to me by his exclusive agent, the Washington Speakers Bureau.

We also protested the censorship of questions. For several years now, by requiring that all questions to them be pre-submitted and approved, the UB administration has protected from direct questioning those of our Distinguished Speakers whose resumes include war crimes in the Balkans and West Asia. This time, they packaged the censorship as "The Blair Student Question Contest": students pre-submitted questions for review, and the administration invited the lucky winners up on the podium to deliver their approved questions in person. When questioned about the practice, Dennis R. Black, UB Vice President of Students and emcee for the evening, told The Buffalo News that "there was no attempt at censorship and that the questions were merely moderated" -- an interesting distinction.

An audio version of the whole speech is available on the website of UB's public radio station ("UB Distinguished Speaker Series - Tony Blair (http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wbfo/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1565254.ece)," WBFO, 13 October 2009). It consists primarily of earnest platitudes and whimsical anecdotes, concluding, incredibly enough, with a story about a comical horse-betting Irishman, rendered in Blair's very best music-hall brogue. But things took a change for the better in the question-and-answer period. Nicolas Kabat, a UB political science major, co-founder of UB Students for Justice in Palestine, and member of the Western New York Peace Center Palestine-Israel Committee, was one of the lucky contest winners because of the slow-pitch, painfully bland question he pre-submitted. But at the microphone, he asked a hard-edged question about Blair's response to the Goldstone report, why he thinks the basic principles of international law are irrelevant to the Middle East peace process, and why the continuing siege on Gaza isn't also harmful to that process.

A video of the five-minute Kabat-Blair exchange is available on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-KH-QtH40Y). I'm told by the UB student who recorded it that UB Vice President for Students Dennis Black (visible at the end of the clip) heard Kabat's unapproved question with vein-popping disbelief. Later, Director of UB Special Events William Regan wrote Kabat to chastise him for departing from the approved question, saying that he had "violated a trust that needs to exist for a contest like this to function properly." In a delightful Freudian slip, he added that "We are very disappointed with your ethical conduct." There is something exquisite about the righteous indignation of a befuddled censor.

Blair seemed at first to be thrown off balance by an actual, uncensored question. Though he eventually found his feet and began to concoct his classic blend of choirboy sanctimony and Machiavellian misdirection, he also seemed to wander unwittingly into a public rejection of the Goldstone report. Like most of its opponents, he failed to find fault with a single one of its factual claims but moved immediately into nostrums and whinging. Despite Kabat's clear statement that the report condemned both Palestinian armed groups and Israel, Blair brightly observed that "you have given one view, and the trouble is that there is another view. ... And one of the things you learn about conflicts like this ... is that you never solve these conflicts by taking one view and forgetting about the other. ... And rocket attacks came out of Gaza on Israeli towns. Now those rocket attacks have got to stop as well."

Like Benjamin Netanyahu in his recent speech to the UN, Blair failed to note the report's forthright and detailed chronicle and condemnation of Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks, and its statement that they had all but ended during the lull of June-November 2008 (31-33, 71-82, 449-74). In fact, Hamas ceased all of its attacks and cracked down on firings by other groups, reducing them by 97 percent and Israeli casualties by 100 percent. This Hamas peace offensive was just too much for Israel to bear, so on 4 November 2008, a squad of Israeli commandos infiltrated Gaza and killed six Hamas soldiers, thus shattering the lull (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10123.shtml) (78).

Blair also suggests that we must reject the Goldstone report as hopelessly partisan because it ignores provocations by Hamas: "The Israeli soldier that is kidnapped at the moment, Gilad Shalit, should be released." The problem here is that the report actually exhibits the usual disproportionate and tacitly racist concern for this lone Israeli detainee (on pages 25, 28, 57, 66, 288, 289, 291, 304, 371-73, 412, 415, 418, 486, 541, 551), though unlike Blair, it also discusses the 8,100 detained Palestinian men, women and children (27-29, 401-23).

The center of Blair's rejection of the Goldstone report, however, lay in his dismissal of international law as such. He genuflected briefly toward it, but added that we'll never get anywhere through "a debate over a report that is hotly supported on one side, hotly and deeply contested on the other." In other words, international law is fine until Israel disagrees with it, at which point we should abandon it. How, then, will the conflict be resolved? Israel needs "security" and the Palestinians need an "independent state," but first, there needs to be "an end to violence," which, of course, never includes the root violence of occupation. And most of all, we must "understand the pain on either side, get them to understand that they are not alone in their pain."

In short, Blair guides us gently away from the fussy, contentious, legalistic and impractical world of international law, which makes us throw our hands up in the air, Rashomon-style, and toward that warm and empathetic place where we feel each other's pain. This empathetic pain seems to be quite distinct from and finer than the everyday pain experienced by mere Palestinians in Gaza, as they bleed and die in particular places. In the classic mode of conservative ideologists, Blair insists that, if we ever hope to change social institutions, we must first change the human heart.

For all its faults, the Goldstone report never descends to this sort of vacuous moral idiocy. It combines an analysis of massive violations of international law with a chronicle of the human pain those violations have caused: the suffering of people in Gaza crushed in their homes beneath debris (239), wounded and denied medical care (232-33, 377), shot down while waving white flags (199-203), seared by white phosphorus (533), and left to sicken and die in a state of permanent siege (9-10, 22-25, 95-100, 335-71). And the ongoing reality of war crimes arising from an illegal military occupation pervades the report.

But of course, this is Tony Blair, so there's a cheery upside to things, too, thanks to the Palestinian Authority's neoliberal development projects and its West Bank security gang: "And just to tell you some good news out of Israel and Palestine this week. ... When I first became the Envoy ... I couldn't have gone to a city like Jenin or Nablus on the West Bank. Today, I go to Jenin or Nablus, where they opened a hotel in Nablus just the other day. I go to places like Qalqilyah, I go to Hebron, I go to Jericho, Ramallah obviously. In other words, I can go around the West Bank."

Who could ask for anything more?

Jim Holstun teaches world literature and Marxism at SUNY Buffalo. He has previously published< "Nonie Darwish and the el-Bureij massacre" (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9646.shtml) and (with Joanna Tinker) "Israel's fabricated rocket crisis" (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10123.shtml) for The Electronic Intifada. He can be reached at jamesholstun A T hotmail D O T com.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10827.shtml

Mark Stapleton
10-15-2009, 02:19 PM
How does he sleep?

Probably with strong drugs.

Peter Presland
10-15-2009, 03:27 PM
Seems like as good a place as any to put this:

From a brave and honest reporter in Today's Jerusalem Post: (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1254861893834&pagename=JPArticle/ShowFull)

Virtually all of Israel is now speaking in one voice against the Goldstone report (http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm), against any attempt to blame us over the war in Gaza. We've honed our message to a sharp point and, inspired by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's performance at the UN, we're delivering it with just the right tone of outrage:

How dare anyone deny us the right to self-defense! How dare anyone deny us the right to fight back against terrorism!Very nice. Puts everyone else on the defensive. The right to self-defense is up there with motherhood and apple pie - who's going to come out against it, especially for us, for Israel, for the Jews, for the people of the Holocaust? The right to self-defense - perfect.

But I'd like to ask: "Do the Palestinians also have the right to self-defense?"

We probably wouldn't admit it out loud, but in our heads we would say - again, in one voice - "No!"

This is the Israeli notion of a fair deal: We're entitled to do whatever the hell we want to the Palestinians because, by definition, whatever we do to them is self-defense. They, however, are not entitled to lift a finger against us because, by definition, whatever they do to us is terrorism.

That's the way it's always been, that's the way it was in Operation Cast Lead. AND THERE are no limits on our right to self-defense. There is no such thing as "disproportionate." We can blockade Gaza, we can answer Kassams with F-16s and Apaches, we can take 100 eyes for an eye. We can deliberately destroy thousands of Gazan homes, the Gazan parliament, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, courthouses, the only Gazan flour plant, the main poultry farm, a sewage treatment plant, water wells and God knows what else.

Deliberately.

After all, we're acting in self-defense. By definition

And what right do the Palestinians have to defend themselves against this?None.

Why? Because we're better than them. Because we're a democracy and they're a bunch of Islamo-fascists. Because ours is a culture of life and theirs is a culture of death. Because they're out to destroy us and all we are saying is give peace a chance.

One look at the ruins of Gaza ought to make that plain enough.

Here is our idea of the "laws of war": When Israeli bulldozers rolled across the border into Gazan villages and flattened house after house so Hamas wouldn't have them for cover after the IDF pulled out, that was self-defense. But if a Palestinian boy who'd lived in one of those houses threw a stone at one of the bulldozers, that was terrorism.

The Goldstones of the world call this hypocrisy, a double standard.

How dare they!

Around here, we call it moral clarity .

Jan Klimkowski
10-15-2009, 07:44 PM
I didn't hear the lecture, for I was outside in a free speech corral (the first one to have appeared on my campus) with a group protesting Blair's invitation and his enormous lecture fee of $150,000, as confirmed to me by his exclusive agent, the Washington Speakers Bureau.

We also protested the censorship of questions. For several years now, by requiring that all questions to them be pre-submitted and approved, the UB administration has protected from direct questioning those of our Distinguished Speakers whose resumes include war crimes in the Balkans and West Asia. This time, they packaged the censorship as "The Blair Student Question Contest": students pre-submitted questions for review, and the administration invited the lucky winners up on the podium to deliver their approved questions in person.

.....

Nicolas Kabat, a UB political science major, co-founder of UB Students for Justice in Palestine, and member of the Western New York Peace Center Palestine-Israel Committee, was one of the lucky contest winners because of the slow-pitch, painfully bland question he pre-submitted. But at the microphone, he asked a hard-edged question about Blair's response to the Goldstone report, why he thinks the basic principles of international law are irrelevant to the Middle East peace process, and why the continuing siege on Gaza isn't also harmful to that process.

A video of the five-minute Kabat-Blair exchange is available on YouTube. I'm told by the UB student who recorded it that UB Vice President for Students Dennis Black (visible at the end of the clip) heard Kabat's unapproved question with vein-popping disbelief. Later, Director of UB Special Events William Regan wrote Kabat to chastise him for departing from the approved question, saying that he had "violated a trust that needs to exist for a contest like this to function properly." In a delightful Freudian slip, he added that "We are very disappointed with your ethical conduct." There is something exquisite about the righteous indignation of a befuddled censor.

:thrasher: Excellent stuff.

:beer: To the resourcefulness of the students.

Magda Hassan
10-20-2009, 06:19 AM
TONY BLAIR has been cashing in on his contacts from the Iraq conflict and his role as Middle East peace envoy for a private business venture expected to earn him more than £5m a year.
The former prime minister has sold his political and economic expertise to two countries, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, via his fledgling private consultancy. He also represents the investment bank JP Morgan in the region.
Blair has been working pro bono in the Middle East as a peace envoy while amassing a fortune from the American lecture circuit. By offering himself to the Arab states as a statesman for hire, he could comfortably double his annual earnings.
His consultancy, the London-based Tony Blair Associates (TBA), emulates the New York partnership Kissinger Associates, which was founded by Henry Kissinger, the former national security adviser to President Nixon. One friend of Blair said: “TBA has been set up to make money from foreign governments and major companies. There’s a focus on the Middle East, because that’s where the money is.”

His expanding business interests as he roves across the Middle East means he flips his roles on a daily basis in official meetings: one hour, he is the official peace envoy meeting a Middle East minister or ruler; the next, he is a representative of TBA or JP Morgan. In some meetings with Arab states, where Blair is introduced as the peace envoy, he has been flanked by Jonathan Powell, his former chief of staff, who accepted a job with Morgan Stanley, another US investment bank, after leaving Downing Street. Powell has no role in the peace process, but is a senior adviser to TBA and helps to win business in the Middle East.
Peter Brierley, 59, of Batley, West Yorkshire, whose 28-year-old son Shaun was killed near the Kuwait-Iraq border in 2003 and who refused to shake Blair’s hand at a memorial service this month, said: “This beggars belief. It’s absolutely scandalous that he’s now trying to make money from his contacts in the region. It’s money from the blood and lives of the soldiers who died in Iraq.”
Just hours after he stepped down from No 10 on June 27, 2007, it was announced that Blair was to work as the Middle East envoy, on behalf of the European Union, the United Nations, the United States and Russia. He was given the job on the strength of his involvement in the Middle East during his premiership.
Four months after leaving office, Blair signed a £5m book deal with Random House. He is working on his memoirs, which are pencilled in for publication next autumn, according to sources at the publisher.
His fees for talks, along with contracts with JP Morgan and Zurich Financial Services, are estimated to put his earnings — excluding the book deal — well in excess of £5m a year. He is also involved in philanthropic works, including his faith foundation and a sports foundation.
TBA’s annual earnings in the Middle East alone could be expected easily to double his income, according to business sources in the region. “The ruling families in some of these countries may be fabulously wealthy, but they crave recognition in the western world,” said one source. “Blair offers that and will be in great demand.”
Blair disclosed last December that he had formed TBA, to advise on “political and economic trends and governmental reform”. One of his first recruits was Powell.
On January 17 this year, Blair was in Saudi Arabia in his peace envoy role to hold talks with King Abdullah on the situation in the Gaza strip and the need to end Israeli aggression. Powell was also on the trip.
Two days later Blair and Powell were ushered in to meet the nephew of the king, Prince Alwaleed, the wealthiest businessman in the Middle East.
Alwaleed, who has a fortune of more than £15 billion, has a 420-room marble palace, a fleet of more than 60 cars and a double-decker jet, the Airbus A380, on order as a private “flying palace”. He has billions of dollars of investments around the world and is chairman of Kingdom Holding Company.
Why would Powell want to meet him? The most likely scenario is that he and Blair were offering TBA’s services or wanted to cultivate Alwaleed as an influential contact. Blair’s spokesman denies TBA business was discussed.
Whether or not they were rebuffed, Blair and Powell packed up their papers to promote TBA’s wares elsewhere. A few days later, on January 26, they popped up in Kuwait. Blair, introduced as the peace envoy, met Sheikh al-Sabah and other senior officials in state rooms. Powell perched discreetly near Blair on a sofa.
This time, they appear to have pulled it off. It emerged a few weeks later that TBA had signed up the country as a client, advising it on “good governance” for what has been reported to be a seven-figure sum. “It’s a big task and he’s working as an adviser on many issues,” a Kuwaiti diplomat said last week.
Blair has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the Emir of Kuwait. He held talks with Sheikh al-Sabah in May 2003, just weeks after Saddam Hussein was deposed.
Three months after his Kuwait visit this year, on May 24, Blair — in his role as peace envoy — was in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), meeting the education minister. On the same day, he walked into another meeting with the UAE finance minister, representing JP Morgan, the US investment bank, as an adviser. The bank refused to comment on the meeting last week.
Blair is now a regular visitor to Abu Dhabi, typically staying in a £1,500-a-night double suite at the Emirates Palace. The hotel — the most costly ever built — is decked out with acres of gold leaf and renowned for offering guests the chance to consume real gold flakes; scattered on cappuccinos and cakes it can be ingested harmlessly. Guests are said to consume about 13lb of gold each year.
Blair enjoys cordial relations with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince, who was educated at Sandhurst and who is a Ju- Jitsu expert. He held talks with the Crown Prince on his December 2006 prime ministerial tour of the Middle East.
Blair has praised the UAE for helping the Palestinians with millions of pounds for community projects. The country is also on TBA’s secret client list. Sheikh Mohammed’s state investment fund, Mubadala, is understood to have put TBA on its payroll three months ago.
Mubadala’s interests include oil and gas exploration contracts in Libya, a partnership with EADS, the European defence group and a stake in Ferrari.
John McGaw, a senior adviser at Golden Oryx, a business development company in the UAE, said: “ has a fantastic network, which is still sort of warm from his former days. He lends global credibility to one of the top sovereign wealth funds.”
One of Mubadala’s subsidiaries is building Masdar City, a zero-carbon development that will be powered by solar energy. Blair supported the successful bid for the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) to be based in the city.
On September 3, Blair was once again in Abu Dhabi, giving a speech before the crown prince and other dignitaries on the opportunities of globalisation. His talk — ranging from the Palestinian issue to the profits from globalisation — illustrates how he deftly blends his unpaid role in the Middle East with opportunities to showcase the political and business talent that is available for hire.
While TBA may guarantee Blair’s financial security, he risks, like Kissinger, ruling himself out of future public service as the client list expands.
Kissinger was appointed in 2002 to chair an inquiry into intelligence failures before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, but came under pressure to reveal the clients of Kissinger Associates. He subsequently stood down, citing a controversy over a conflict of interest.
Blair himself will come under pressure to disclose the client list of TBA if he becomes European Union president, even if he removes himself from the partnership’s day-to-day business.
MPs also believe his work already undermines his role of peace envoy in the Middle East. Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman, said: “The role of peace envoy, the office of which is subsidised by the taxpayer, is not meant to be an opportunity to look for new business opportunities for Tony Blair Associates.”
Blair’s spokesman said it was “absolute nonsense” to suggest that Blair was using contacts from the Iraq conflict or his work as peace envoy for business purposes. He said Blair had known the Emir of Kuwait since 1995.
He said TBA work did not represent a conflict of interest with his peace role. Kingdom Holding Company was not a TBA client and paid consultancy work with Kuwait had been completed, he said. “Tony Blair is in high demand for his advice and analysis in geopolitics,” the spokesman said.
“However, the vast majority of his time is spent on his unpaid activities, principally his role as quartet representative.”
[B]Voters against EU treaty
The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has called for a national referendum on the Lisbon treaty as it emerged in a survey that Britain would vote more than two-to-one against.
In a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times, 41% of respondents said they would vote against the treaty in a referendum, with 18% in favour; 41% were undecided.
An equal proportion of the population — 38% — were for and against Tony Blair becoming president of the European Union.
Klaus’s intervention on a referendum came in an open letter addressed to the Czech constitutional court. He has so far refused to sign the treaty, which has been ratified by all other EU members.
The houses that Tony bought
South Pavilion, Buckinghamshire
Purchase price: £4m
A seven-bedroom mansion bought in 2008. The mansion, once owned by Sir John Gielgud, is a few miles from Chequers, the prime ministerial retreat.
Connaught Square, London
Purchase price: £3.65m
A five-storey grade II listed Georgian townhouse bought in September 2004. The house is now the Blairs’ main London residence.
Archery Close, London
Purchase price: £800,000 (estimated)
A mews house bought in February 2007. The intention was to improve the security of the Blairs’ main London residence.
Myrobella, Co Durham
Purchase price: £30,000
A four-bedroomed home bought in 1983 after Blair was elected as MP for Sedgefield.
Now for sale for £300,000.
Townhouse, London.
Purchase price: £1.13m
Mews property bought in September this year with no mortgage.
The house — with three bathroooms and a sun terrace — is owned by Cherie Blair and her son Nicky.
The Panoramic, Bristol
Purchase Price: £525,000
Two flats bought for £260,000 and £265,000 in 2002. Peter Foster, a conman, helped with the purchase.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6879436.ece