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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 20:20 GMT
Ex-footballer rejects 'blackmail' claim
Peter Foster
Peter Foster made the claims about Paul Walsh
Former footballer Paul Walsh has dismissed claims he tried to blackmail conman Peter Foster over his links with Cherie Blair.

Mr Foster used his latest statement about the controversy to accuse the ex-Liverpool player of threatening to reveal his help to Mrs Blair in buying two flats.

Scotland Yard says it is investigating Mr Foster's claim, but Mr Walsh argued it was not being treated seriously and he was only trying to get back his own money.

Mr Walsh was one of the shareholders in the convicted fraudster's latest business venture, slimming help firm Renuelle.

Number 10 warned

In his statement on Monday, Mr Foster said: "On November 27 I received an email from Paul Walsh, a fellow shareholder in a company called Renuelle.

"He was demanding 75,000 or, he threatened, he would reveal that I had been party to the flat negotiations.

"With my record, he said this would hurt the prime minister.

It was also Paul Walsh who went to the media

Paul Walsh
"We immediately told Downing Street of this threat. This e-mail also made claims I had been boasting about the Blair relationship. I had not.

"Any information in connection with the flat negotiations that Paul Walsh obtained was I believe from my driver, who coincidentally is Paul Walsh's father-in-law.

"It was also Paul Walsh who went to the media. His actions are now subject of a police investigation following a complaint by me."

'Gagging' offer

Mr Walsh rejected the claims when he spoke to BBC Radio Five Live.

"They've had that allegation for nearly three weeks, and no-one's even been bothered to even ask me about it.

"So that's how seriously I think that allegation is viewed."

Mr Walsh said the e-mail had been around for anybody to see during the last two weeks.

At the bottom of it, he had said he was willing to sign a "gagging" agreement, particularly for the comfort of the Blairs.

"I was certainly using it as an angle, to try and get him to give me my money back," added Mr Walsh.

'Festering influence'

Mr Walsh said he had not known Mr Foster's full past when he met him in June.

He explained how his mother and father-in-law had helped Mr Foster in hard times, treating him almost like a son.

"This guy has slowly, through them, festered into our family and friends, and manipulated situations within that situation, taken 150,000 out of those people, of which no-one has seen a penny."

Mr Walsh said he was not the only person to believe in Mr Foster's business venture - "six or seven" people had given up their jobs over the scheme.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We have an allegation of blackmail reported to Charing Cross CID which is currently under investigation.

"It has only been made in the last week or so. We have not yet interviewed all the parties concerned."


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13 Dec 02 | Politics
16 Dec 02 | Politics
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