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Helic, a blonde, blue-eyed Bosnian Muslim, is routinely described as ‘formidable’, but is well-liked and trusted for her no-nonsense advice. Having arrived in the UK at the age of 22, in the midst of the former Yugoslavia’s bloody breakup, she has direct personal experience of what it means to be a refugee. Whenever Hague ponders intervention or talks of a refugee crisis, he has someone at his side who knows the plight of those with ‘no country, no property and no security’, a colleague says. Helic, who shuns the limelight, has extensive contacts among the Tory party’s defence and foreign affairs experts. As young refugees to London, she and her sister were lodgers with former Defence Secretary John Nott and his wife Miloshka, herself a Slovenian refugee from Communist Yugoslavia. She got her big break while working part-time in the House of Commons library’s International Relations section, when former shadow minister Robert Key asked her to write a paper for him. He was so impressed that word spread quickly in Tory circles and after 1997 she was hired to work for successive shadow defence ministers including John Maples, Iain Duncan Smith, Liam Fox and Nicholas Soames (Soames once declared ‘I love you, Minky!’). Her fierce loyalty, sharp eye and capacity for hard work ensured that she was taken on when Hague was asked by Cameron to return from the backbenches in 2005. Although no one uses the title, Helic is effectively Hague’s chief of staff, and when civil servants speak to her they are aware that she knows his mind better than almost anybody. She always wanted to work for the Foreign Office and loves her job – which is possibly why she and the others survive punishing hours (the spads joke that they see more of each other than their own friends and family) and schedule of visits needed to keep up with the ever-energetic Secretary of State.