The man behind Blair's new job: From miner's son to peer with powerBy MICHAEL SEAMARK
Last updated at 22:37 28 January 2008
Trusted adviser: Lord Leitch
The New Labour peer who engineered Tony Blair's money-spinning job with Zurich is little known outside party and financial circles.
Lord Leitch forged strong links with the most senior members of the Blair government when he ran Zurich's British operation.
Less than a year after Labour first won power in 1997, Sandy Leitch was invited to No10 for breakfast with other business leaders.
He went on to run several Labour projects, becoming one of Mr Blair's most trusted business advisers.
His reward came in 2004 - the same year he left Zurich - when he was made a Labour peer, becoming Baron Leitch of Oakley in Fife.
The multi-millionaire entrepreneur, who is now chairman of Scottish Widows, was introduced into the Lords by Mr Blair's chief fundraiser, Lord Levy.
But Lord Leitch, 60, has maintained links with Gordon Brown's government, donating £5,000 last year to his leadership campaign.
The son of a Scottish coal miner, he learned from personal experience the value of life insurance.
His father died when he was two and the lack of a policy meant his family faced poverty during the years of austerity that followed the Second World War.
In his early thirties, Lord Leitch became seriously ill, suffering a lesion on the brain that paralysed him down one side.
However, he was covered by a policy-He later said that insurance can represent "the difference between destitution and dignity".
His working life has revolved around the insurance business. Stints at Hambro Life and Allied Dunbar led to him joining Zurich Financial Services in 1998 and becoming one of the grandees of the insurance world.
His identity - and business success - might have gone unnoticed to the wider public but for his name becoming embroiled in the 2004 scandal surrounding former Home Secretary David Blunkett and publisher Kimberley Quinn.
Lord Leitch was named as another of Mrs Quinn's lovers, the couple having reportedly met in 1999 when both were unattached.
The business tycoon, who has three daughters by his first wife Valerie, whom he divorced in 1997, refused to comment when the stories surfaced.
He married his second wife, Noelle Dowd, who is in her thirties, in 2003.
When details emerged last May of the £110,000 in donations given to his leadership campaign, Gordon Brown was accused of cronyism after the Tories claimed many of the individuals bankrolling his successful bid to take over from Mr Blair - including Lord Leitch - had previously been given Government jobs.
In 2000, Lord Leitch was put in charge of the New Deal task force, a scheme set up to encourage employers to take on school-leavers.
In 2004, he was appointed chairman of the National Employment Panel and more recently led a major project on skills.