| Alan Duncan |
(politician, deep state operative)
|Born||Alan James Carter Duncan|
|Alma mater||Beechwood Park School, Merchant Taylors' School, St John's College (Oxford), Harvard University|
|Member of||Le Cercle|
|Interests|| • Marc Rich|
• Benazir Bhutto
UK Cercle visitor. As Minister of State for International Development he organized oil blockade of Libya in 2011.
Duncan was born in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, the second son of James Grant Duncan, an RAF wing commander, and his wife Anne Duncan (née Carter), a teacher. The family travelled much, following Duncan's father on NATO postings, including in Gibraltar, Italy, and Norway.
Duncan was educated at two independent schools: Beechwood Park School in Markyate, and Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood, at both of which he was 'Head Monitor' (head boy). He had two brothers, who also attended Beechwood Park School. Their family supported the Liberal Party, and Duncan ran (and lost) as a Liberal at a school mock election in 1970; two years later he joined the Young Conservatives.
He then attended St John's College, Oxford, where he coxed the college first eight, and was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1979. Whilst there, he formed a friendship with Benazir Bhutto, and ran her successful campaign to become the President of the Oxford Union. He gained a Kennedy Scholarship to study at Harvard University between 1981 and 1982.
After graduating from Oxford, Duncan worked as a trader of oil and refined products, first with Royal Dutch Shell (1979–81) and then for Marc Rich from 1982 to 1988 (Rich became a fugitive from justice in 1983). He worked for Rich in London and Singapore. Duncan used the connections he had built up to be self-employed from 1988 to 1992, acting as a consultant and adviser to foreign governments on oil supplies, shipping and refining.
In 1989, Duncan set up the independent Harcourt Consultants, which advises on oil and gas matters. He made over £1 million after helping fill the need to supply oil to Pakistan after supplies from Kuwait had been disrupted in the Gulf War.
Duncan was an active member of the Battersea Conservative Association from 1979 until 1984, when he moved to live in Singapore, from which he returned in 1986. After Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigned in November 1990, he offered his home in Westminster as the headquarters of John Major's leadership campaign.
Duncan was involved in the 1997 leadership contest, being the right-hand man of William Hague, the eventual winner. In this capacity, he was called "the closest thing [the Conservatives] have to Peter Mandelson". Duncan and Hague had both been at Oxford, both been Presidents of the Oxford Union, and had been close friends since at least the early 1980s. Duncan, openly gay since 2002, once shared a London flat with William Hague, who has felt obliged to deny public speculation about his own sexuality.
Libya oil cell
During the UK/NATO attack on Libya in 2011, Duncan was the brain behind the so-called "Libya oil cell", which helped block fuel supplies to the government while ensuring that petrol and diesel continued to get through to the British-supported rebels in the east. The cell advised Nato to blockade the port of Zawiya to prevent tankers bringing in fuel for the Gaddafi government's war effort. Libya had lots of crude but he couldn't refine it. They also helped locate other routes the smugglers were using to get fuel into Libya overland from Tunisia and Algeria.
The cell encouraged London-based oil traders to sell fuel to the rebels in Benghazi by trying to minimise the risk they would take by having to wait for payment. It also ensured that the oil traders knew who to contact within the rebel hierarchy.
Targeted by the Israel lobby
In an undercover investigation, Al Jazeera recorded an Israeli diplomat in London, Shai Masot, caught plotting to "take down" minister Alan Duncan for his opposition the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The recording show Masot discussing the way to proceed in this with Maria Strizzolo, who is allegedly only a UK civil servant.
In his 2019 memoirs, Duncan accued pro-Israel lobbyists of "the most disgusting interference" in British public life, the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) had been responsible for pushing the country to adopt disproportionately anti-Palestinian and pro-Israel policies. "It’s a sort of buried scandal that has to stop… they will interfere at a high level in British politics in the interests of Israel on the back of donor power in the UK."
US intelligence interest
US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks reveal a particular intelligence interest in Alan Duncan, at the time shadow minister for prisons. A 22 January 2010 cable was signed off by Elizabeth Pitterle, head of intelligence operations. She thanked the London embassy for its intelligence on Duncan's "friendship with ... William Hague", saying it was "particularly insightful and exceptionally well timed, as analysts are preparing finished products on the Conservative leadership for senior policymakers".
The cable called for further intelligence on "Duncan's relationship with Conservative party leader David Cameron and William Hague", and asked:"What role would Duncan play if the Conservatives form a government? What are Duncan's political ambitions?"
- Full list of new cabinet ministers and other government appointments, guardian.co.uk, 13 May 2010.