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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 16:48 GMT
Solicitor backs Cherie's story
Cherie Blair
Foster's solicitor says Mrs Blair behaved properly
Peter Foster's solicitor has insisted his firm had no advice from Cherie Blair in the convicted fraudster's deportation case.

The statement from David Janes came after the Scotsman newspaper claimed Mrs Blair had been closely involved in Mr Foster's case.

It is clear these allegations aren't true

Tony Blair's spokesman
The newspaper said details of the case were faxed to Mrs Blair at her private flat in Downing Street and that she had advised his legal team on how to proceed.

Carole Caplin, Mr Foster's girlfriend and Mrs Blair's confidante, earlier said legal papers were faxed to her while she was in Mrs Blair's flat - and that the prime minister's wife had refused to read them.

Appearing to back up Downing Street's version of events, Mr Janes said his firm had "not knowingly" given Mrs Blair any papers.

His firm had "never sought, nor been given any advice, assistance or influence whatsoever" by Mrs Blair, added Mr Janes.

Downing Street has strongly rebutted the latest newspaper claims, with a spokesman saying Number 10 would not "dance to the tune" of a convicted fraudster and it was "time to move on" from the affair.

Number 10 said Ms Caplin's first public statement was "entirely consistent with every single thing" it had been saying.

Tony Blair's spokesman branded the Scotsman story was merely "inaccuracies presented as fact".

Carole Caplin
Caplin: "Appalled" by the way Cherie's help was interpreted
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith is again demanding an independent inquiry.

He said the furore threatened to overshadow the Copenhagen summit on EU enlargement, which Mr Blair is currently attending.

"Every time they say something we discover that it is untrue," said Mr Duncan Smith.

"If that is deliberate, then let's find out. If it's not, then let's also find out."

The Tory leader added: "If we cannot believe what government says then the whole system of government is called into question.

"So this has to be settled swiftly."

Commons leader Robin Cook accused the Tories of trying to make "cheap" political capital out of the row.

Earlier, the prime minister's official spokesman attempted to clear up any discrepancies.

The Scotsman
The story continues to generate press publicity
He said: "Mrs Blair never asked for any papers to be sent to her. And she didn't read them.

"Carole Caplin brought some with her on November 22 and also asked for others to be faxed over. But Cherie Blair didn't read them.

"She didn't call Peter Foster in relation to this and she made clear to Carole Caplin that she knew nothing about the judge (in the Foster case) because she had never met him."

He added: "We are not going to dance to the tune of Peter Foster, a convicted fraudster.

"The public has moved on even if you (the media) haven't."

'Appalled'

Breaking her public silence about the furore earlier on Thursday, Ms Caplin said she had asked Mr Foster to fax the documents to the Blairs' flat.

She said: "Cherie told me it would not be right for her to read them as it was not her case, so I folded them up, put them in my bag and took them home, basically.

"At no stage did Cherie speak to Peter Foster about this.

"I'm appalled that her phone call to the solicitor, which was a simple act of friendship to me, is being interpreted in this way and I have apologised to Cherie for the embarrassment and difficulties that has caused her."

Citing "legal sources", The Scotsman said Mrs Blair asked to be shown details of the case being made against him.

Human rights help?

The paper's editor, Iain Martin, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Scotsman had proved that Mrs Blair was "intimately involved" in Mr Foster's legal case.

He said Mrs Blair had spoken to Mr Foster on 22 November.

The newspaper claims Mrs Blair advised Mr Foster to use parts of human rights law in his case.

That claim was also rejected by Downing Street and Mr Janes stressed his firm had not given information to the media, except for one previous press release.

Number 10 says anybody with evidence of wrong-doing should take it the appropriate authority - the cabinet secretary for civil servants; the Bar Council for Mrs Blair as a lawyer; and the police for anything criminal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
David Janes, Peter Foster's solicitor
"We did not knowingly fax any papers to Cherie"
The BBC's Mark Mardell
"Another swirl of allegations is surrounding Mrs Blair"
Iain Martin, Editor of The Scotsman
"Sombody is not telling the truth within No.10"
The BBC's June Kelly
"Cherie Blair has done nothing illegal"
 VOTE RESULTS
Cherie speech: Were you convinced?

Yes
 38.56% 

No
 61.44% 

30800 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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12 Dec 02 | Politics
12 Dec 02 | Politics
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