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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 15:10 GMT
Q&A: Latest Cherie allegations explained
Cherie Blair
Cherie Blair denies acting improperly
Fresh newspaper allegations against Cherie Blair claim she was closely involved in helping convicted fraudster Peter Foster in his fight against extradition.

BBC News Online unravels the latest twist in the saga.

How serious are the allegations?

It looked as if the story had gone away, but if the allegations in The Scotsman are to be believed then it is very much alive.

What are the claims?

The essence of The Scotsman's allegation is that Cherie Blair was actively and intimately involved in Peter Foster's case against deportation, something she has always strenuously denied.

The allegations are these:

  • That Mrs Blair asked for and received the defence case against deportation
  • That she asked for and received the Crown case to have him deported - those papers were faxed to her by Peter Foster
  • That she then phoned Peter Foster to discuss the case

On top of that it is claimed that Cherie Blair advised the defence team that they ought to include a human rights defence element.

The suggestion is that she said they should argue that it would be a breach of Mr Foster's family rights if he was deported, because Carole Caplin was pregnant.

And finally that she suggested to Carole Caplin - and this information was allegedly passed on to the defence team - that the judge who was to hear this case, Mr Justice Cook, was cautious and conservative.

And therefore unlikely to take a courageous decision, meaning unlikely to decide against deportation.

The paper quotes "legal sources" as the basis for its story.

How does this compare with what Cherie Blair has said?

It sits starkly at odds with the picture painted by Mrs Blair, namely that she only spoke to the solicitor to reassure her friend Carole Caplin that everything was handled in a proper fashion.

The evidence is contained in details of a fax, apparently sent containing the defence papers to Mrs Blair.

The Scotsman prints the time the fax was sent how long it took to go through.

Carole Caplin has now said the fax was sent to Cherie Blair's flat, while she was there.

She said the fax was sent by Mr Foster and Mrs Blair refused to read it.

What is Downing Street's reaction?

Downing Street has said these latest allegations are simply "inaccuracies presented as fact".

It says Mrs Blair never spoke to Mr Foster about his deportation case and never asked for any papers to be sent to her.

Carole Caplin brought some papers with her to Mrs Blair's flat on 22 November and also asked for others to be faxed over, a spokesman said.

But, he stressed, Mrs Blair did not read them.

Mrs Blair also made it clear to Carole Caplin that she knew nothing about the judge because she had never met him.

In her statement, Mrs Caplin said she folded up the papers, put them in her bag and took them home.

This is consistent with the account given to journalists by Downing Street on Tuesday, when a spokesman said Mrs Blair did not ask for or read the court papers.

And that she had not been sent the papers "on an unsolicited basis" and, furthermore, that she did not know the content of the papers.

Downing Street's version of events has also been backed up by Mr Foster's solicitor, David Janes.

Mr Janes said his firm did not seek nor was given any advice by Mrs Blair on the conduct of the case.

So who is telling the truth?

Downing Street is sticking by its version of events, which is diametrically opposed to that published by the Scotsman.

Either the Scotsman has got it wrong - or Downing Street has again misled journalists.

The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"There are further allegations about her dealings with Peter Foster"
Iain Martin, Editor of The Scotsman
"Sombody is not telling the truth within No.10"
Cherie speech: Were you convinced?



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12 Dec 02 | Politics
11 Dec 02 | Politics
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