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Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 10:39 GMT
Cherie accountant accused of fraud
Cherie Blair
The row over the property deal continues
The accountant who arranged Cherie Blair's mortgage on two flats is due to stand trial on fraud charges, police have confirmed.

Andrew Axelsen has been charged over contracts awarded for London Underground's Jubilee Line extension, British Transport Police said.

Peter Foster
Mr Foster recommended Mr Axelsen
This fresh revelation is likely to further fuel the controversy over the prime minister's wife's purchase of two flats in Bristol with the help of convicted fraudster Peter Foster.

Mr Axelsen was recommended to Mrs Blair by Mr Foster.

Mrs Blair has faced press censure after confirming Mr Foster helped her with the deal - despite earlier denials from the Number 10 press office.

E-mail exchange

Downing Street has refused to comment on the fraud charges.

But it has already insisted that there was nothing improper about Mrs Blair's purchase of the two flats in Bristol, where her son Euan is a student.

Mr Axelsen's co-defendant at the Old Bailey, Martin Williams, was also suggested by Mr Foster to do Mrs Blair's property conveyancing, according to the Daily Telegraph.

But she appointed another solicitor, the paper said.


A British Transport Police spokesman said: "Andrew Axelsen and Martin Williams have been charged in connection with a fraud investigation.

"Both await trial, with others, at the Central Criminal Court."

In a series of e-mails, published in the Daily Mail, Mr Foster offered Mrs Blair his accountant Mr Axelsen.

"He will not charge for his services as I will pay for his time, and efforts through my company," he wrote.

Later he said he had paid Mr Axelsen 4,000 for arranging a mortgage but had not asked the prime minister's wife to reimburse him.

Date discrepancy

On Friday the controversy surrounding Mrs Blair's dealings with Mr Foster was exacerbated by a statement she released in which she said he had been involved in negotiations over the property deal for a "couple of weeks".

Panoramic flat development, Bristol
Mrs Blair bought flats in this development
But according to the Daily Mail the e-mails date from a lengthier period, from 20 October to 29 November.

Mrs Blair has insisted that Mr Foster, the boyfriend of her friend Carole Caplin, was never her financial adviser.

In her statement, Mrs Blair said she had not known about Mr Foster's past when she accepted his help.

On Friday Downing Street tried to draw a line under the controversy insisting that there was "a perfectly proper, legal transaction in which nothing extraordinary or illegal took place".

A spokesman said that it was a private matter for Mrs Blair.


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06 Dec 02 | Politics
05 Dec 02 | Politics
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06 Dec 02 | Politics
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