Members of the British financial and social elite privately laughed at and "didn't believe" Conrad Black's assertions of his innocence on the allegations of financial wrongdoing currently being tried in a Chicago court, according to a London tabloid tell-all from the Canadian who was a former lover of a British oil executive.
Jeff Chevalier also told The Mail on Sunday, the newspaper that purchased the rights to his tale, about rubbing shoulders with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Elton John and Mick Jagger, being whisked away on a private jet, and enjoying dinners at their lavish Chelsea home that started with a good vintage Puligny Montrachet or Chassagne Montrachet.
Mr. Chevalier, 27, said he and his former lover, John Browne, the 58-year-old former head of British Petroleum PLC, spent 15 minutes talking to Lord Black at a party they attended in the south of France.
"Conrad spoke of his innocence like a broken record," he told the newspaper. Mr. Chevalier goes on to claim that Barbara Amiel, Lord Black's wife, "was clutching Conrad's leg with her claws. She was clearly not interested in having Conrad speak with John."
Mr. Chevalier said the guests at the party "were all laughing and making snide comments about [Lord Black]behind his back. It was amusing to see Conrad's peers commenting behind his back that they didn't believe him."
Mr. Chevalier rose to infamy last week after he cut short the career of Lord Browne. The British oil executive abruptly resigned last Tuesday after losing a court battle to keep secret the details of his four-year affair with the young Canadian.
Mr. Chevalier's whereabouts remained a mystery yesterday. He did not return any e-mail messages. His brother, Blair, said he did not know where Mr. Chevalier was, and a former lover in Toronto had not heard from him.
The Mail on Sunday reportedly paid Mr. Chevalier's living expenses and gave him a "modest" sum for the exclusive rights to his story.
Yesterday's published account details the non-stop socializing that took place during Mr. Chevalier's relationship with Lord Browne.
After meeting the British Prime Minister in the summer of 2005, Mr. Chevalier said: "I remember looking at Mr. Blair and thinking that he hides his extra weight really well." The Canadian was added to Mr. Blair's Christmas card list.
Mr. Chevalier said he was introduced to many celebrities and politicians during the relationship with Lord Browne, but the constant hobnobbing became too much to handle.
In Venice, the pair would head for the pool at the luxury Hotel Cipriani. But Mr. Chevalier said Lord Browne's friends would intrude on their time together. "It was stressful for me as I could not relax around a pool where everyone knew everyone and would constantly interrupt our relaxation."
Mr. Chevalier's life in London stood in stark contrast to the one he had in Toronto. His former lover, 48-year-old John Trickey, said in an interview that Mr. Chevalier was living with an aunt and working at an escort agency in the city when they met. Their four-year relationship ended when Mr. Trickey's Internet business started to fail and there was less money coming in. Mr. Chevalier moved to London.
His story was published in The Mail on Sunday after a judge found that Lord Browne lied in court about how he met his lover. Lord Browne had said he met Mr. Chevalier while jogging in a London park. His associates told The Guardian newspaper that it was through an on-line escort service called Suited and Booted, but in The Mail article, Mr. Chevalier is referred to as a "Canadian male prostitute."
"Having bought his young lover at the outset," the article later reads, "it seems that Lord Browne continued to believe that he owned him."
After their split last year, Mr. Chevalier issued a "thinly veiled threat" that he would embarrass the oil tycoon, according to a court ruling.
Mr. Chevalier alleges that Lord Browne used BP money to support him, and shared company secrets. Lord Browne denies those allegations. In a statement, BP chairman John Sutherland said the company has investigated the allegations and found them baseless.
Mr. Chevalier told The Mail on Sunday that toward the end of their relationship he suffered from anxiety attacks.
"I was open to a lifestyle that people could only imagine about. It was all new to me and for the first few years a novelty," he said. "But after a while it became almost unbearable ... I could not remember all the 'important' people and that made me feel inferior."
Flights of fancy
John Browne usually travelled on a private jet. But during the times he flew on a commercial airline, he insisted on seat 1A.
His 27-year-old former lover told The Mail on Sunday that the British oil executive took it personally when he wasn't given the prime seat on the airplane.
"When we did not have 1A and 1B on a BA [British Airways]flight, John would want to know why we didn't get the prime seats," Jeff Chevalier said. "Often it would be someone he knew in 1A, and he took it personally that he had not been given the seat."
Only on one occasion did Lord Browne not make a fuss, Mr. Chevalier said. The pair were flying to Barbados in 2004 and rock star Mick Jagger (above) was in 1A.
Actor Hugh Grant (below) had to take the seat behind Lord Browne on that flight.
In the lounge before the flight, Mr. Grant was in a terrible mood, insisting that the televisions be turned off, Mr. Chevalier recalled.
Mr. Jagger, who had been playing the card game Uno with his son for some time, told the young boy to ask "that man over there" [Mr. Grant]to play with him, Mr. Chevalier said.