Monday, 16 December, 2002, 15:32 GMT
Cherie controversy at-a-glance
How the row over Cherie Blair's links with Peter Foster unfolded
Sunday 1 December
- The Mail on Sunday alleges that convicted fraudster Mr Foster boasted to business contacts that Mrs Blair had asked him to negotiate the purchase of two luxury flats in Bristol
- Foster said he used the Blair name to get a £20,000 discount on each flat
- The paper says Peter Foster became part of Cherie Blair's "inner circle" after starting a relationship with Carole Caplin, her "fitness guru"
Monday 2 December
- Downing Street says Peter Foster was not Mrs Blair's financial adviser
- It says the Prime Minister had never met Mr Foster and Mr Foster had never visited Downing Street or Chequers
- Asked about reports that one of the flats was for Euan, the Blairs' eldest son, Downing Street says where he lives is a private matter
Tuesday 3 December
- Downing Street insists that if there had been negotiations over the purchase of property they would have been carried out by Mrs Blair and her lawyer.
Thursday 5 December
- The Daily Mail publishes e-mail correspondence between Mr Foster and Mrs Blair
- In them, Mr Foster tells Mrs Blair he has managed to get the property price down
- He says his accountant is able to obtain a mortgage for her
- After being sent the forms she needs to fill in, Mrs Blair tells Foster: "You are a star, I have sent them off."
- Foster says he has got a letting agent to reduce his fee
Both Mrs Blair and Mr Foster then issued statements.
Cherie Blair statement:
Released at 1130 on 5 December
- Mrs Blair issues a statement admitting that Mr Foster was involved in the flats purchase
- She says she was told about the flats complex by a family friend when her son started university in Bristol
- The asking price on the property was reduced from £295,000 to £269,000 during initial talks
- Because of work commitments, she asked Carole Caplin to look at the properties
- She says that at that point, Mrs Blair had not met Foster and knew nothing of his past
- She has since only met Foster once "by chance"
- He was not her financial adviser
- He helped in talking to property agents but was not involved in the vast bulk of her thick file on the purchase
- She regretted any misunderstanding caused by her desire to keep a private matter out of the public domain
- Foster never spoke to Tony Blair, nor did he meet Euan Blair at the property
Peter Foster's statement
1515 5 December
- His dealings with Mrs Blair were confidential and will remain so - "I will never comment"
- He "naturally regrets" his past but has paid his dues for his mistakes
- He had never been accused or charged with stealing money - instead they were over trading standards - "so maybe after all I'm not such a fraudster"
- He asked the media to give him and Carole Caplin privacy after the sad loss of their child
Sunday 8 December
- Downing Street confirms that money from the Blairs' "blind trust" was used to buy the flats
- Number 10 insists no rules have been broken
- Conservatives and Liberal Democrats raise concerns about the involvement of the Number 10 press office
Monday 9 December
- Peter Foster's solicitors issue a statement about allegations that Mrs Blair contacted them about Mr Foster's deportation case
- They say Mrs Blair took part in a conference phone call with them on 22 November
- They say this was only "to reassure" his girlfriend, Ms Caplin
- There was nothing untoward about the immigration proceedings, they add
- Mrs Blair "did not intrude into our conduct of the proceedings and for the avoidance of doubt, had no say whatsoever in our choice of representation"
Tony Blair response
Monday 9 December
- Mr Blair responds to questions from Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith
- He says: "At no point did Mrs Blair interfere in the immigration case proceedings. Nor would she."
- The call to the solicitors had been "short" and aimed at helping Ms Caplin
- Tony Blair himself said the case was handled "entirely properly" and there had been no "political interference"
Tuesday 10 December
- The Tories question whether plans to deport Peter Foster were speeded up after the controversy went public
- They demand a short independent inquiry into how the case was handled - a call branded "completely unjustified" by Home Office Minister Lord Falconer
- Downing Street accuses the media of a "deliberate campaign of character assassination" against Mrs Blair
- Number 10 says Mrs Blair did not know the details of Foster's troubled past even when she spoke to his solicitor
- Mrs Blair makes a full and public statement, admitting she made mistakes and apologising for any embarrassment caused
Wednesday 11 December
- Tony Blair speaks of his pride for his wife and says some sections of the media have created "a mountain of distortion and half truth"
- Iain Duncan Smith says only an independent inquiry into the government's role can restore Number 10's integrity
- The prime minister insists all questions have been properly answered
Thursday 12 December
- The Scotsman newspaper publishes fresh allegations, claiming Mrs Blair was more intimately involved in Mr Foster's extradition case than previously acknowledged by Downing Street.
- The paper claims Mrs Blair asked for and received the defence case against deportation
- It also says she asked for and received the Crown case to have him deported - those papers were faxed to her by Peter Foster's solicitor
- And then faxed Peter Foster to discuss the case
- It claims she then advised Mr Foster's lawyers that they ought to include a human rights defence element
- But the claim that Mrs Blair asked for and received a fax detailing the defence case was promptly denied Ms Caplin, in her first public statement on the affair
- The former model turned lifestyle guru said she had asked for the fax, when she was at Mrs Blair's flat
- She said Mrs Blair had refused to look at its contents
- This version of events was backed up by Downing Street, which dismissed the Scotsman story was "inaccuracies presented as fact"
- Mr Foster's solicitor, David Janes also appeared to support Downing Street's story
- In a statement, Mr Janes said his firm had neither sought nor received any advice on the Foster case from Mrs Blair
- Tony Blair urges people to "move on" from the row, saying everyone had had "their pound of flesh"
Friday 13 December
- The Sun newspaper publishes transcripts of what it says are telephone conversations between Peter Foster, his brother and his mother
- The transcripts suggest that Mr Foster tried to sell the story of his involvement with Cherie Blair for thousands of pounds
- In the transcripts, Mr Foster alleges that Mrs Blair did read details of his case after they were faxed to Downing Street
- Tony Blair says he will not comment further on the row, but wants to deal with "more important" matters
- The media agency representing Carole Caplin issues a statement saying it warned Downing Street of a blackmail attempt related to Peter Foster's involvement with Cherie Blair three days before the story of her involvement with Mr Foster broke
- It says a blackmail letter had been sent to Mr Foster
- The agency, MacLaurin Media, says it has received numerous media approaches for
interviews with both Miss Caplin and Mr Foster, but had advised against selling
- The agency says Mr Foster will make a statement on Monday 16 December
Saturday 14 December
- In more transcripts said to be Peter Foster's telephone calls, the convicted fraudster warns of "bullets" to come which he says will damage with Tony and Cherie Blair
- Mr Foster tells reporters his story is not for sale 'at any price'
Sunday 15 December
- There are more newspaper reports on the case
- One says Mr Foster plans to leave the UK and that he will take Carole Caplin with him
- The News of the World confirms it offered Mr Foster money to tell his story
Monday, 16 December
Foster says he has not decided to return to Australia and will continue his appeal against deportation
He says his story is not on offer "at any price", but he is planning the last chapters of his autobiography
He denies targeting the Blairs and apologises to them for the "mess" his help has caused
Cherie Blair gave him advice about his legal case, but did not interfere with the legal process, says Foster
He accuses the media of a "character assassination" against him