Linda and David Orams - Cherie Blair and the Bounced Cheque
North Cyprus Orams
20 March 2009 - Cherie Blair and the Bounced Cheque from North Cyprus
Cherie Blair, who is the wife of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is at the centre of a series of rumours concerning bounced cheques for her controversial legal work in North Cyprus.
Cherie Blair was allegedly given a dud cheque for payment of her legal fees when she defended Linda and David Orams against the claim by Meletios Apostolides concerning a house in Lapta, North Cyprus.
The report started in the Star Kibris newspaper during March 2009 and states that a cheque for GBP 150,000 was made out to Cherie Blair, but that the cheque was dishonoured and was returned by her bank.
The work was undertaken in 2006 in London where Cherie Blair successfully defended a claim by a Greek Cypriot, Mr Meletis Apostolides against a British couple, Linda and David Orams. The claimant had secured a judgement against Linda and David Orams in the Greek Cypriot court of South Nicosia and wished to have the judgment registered in London. If Mr Apostolides had been successful, then the British Court may have given Mr Apostolides leave to seize the Oram's UK assets.
The dispute is based on a property in Lapta, North Cyprus. Linda and David Orams bought the property for GBP 160,000 in 2003. Mr Meletis Apostolides claims to be the lawful owner of the property, which was owned by his family prior to the partition of Cyprus in 1974.
When the island was partitioned in 1974, Greek Cypriots were displaced to the south, and Turkish Cypriots moved to the north. Members of both communities were forced to abandon their homes in the conflict. The modern Republic of Cyprus is on the south of the island, and is Greek, while the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus is on the north of the island, and is Turkish. Nicosia is the only remaining divided city in the world.
At first sight, the story seems implausible. If Cherie Blair's fees had not been paid for her legal work in 2006, then it is unlikely that she would have continued to represent Linda and David Orams in 2007, and latterly in 2008, when the case moved to the European Court of Justice. However, the rumours were given momentum by the fact that a spokeswomen for Matrix Chambers, Cherie Blair's law firm, refused to comment on the story.
Similarly, Linda Orams was recently asked about the rumour. Although she dismissed the report, she could not confirm that Cherie Blair's fees had been paid. Again, a simple confirmation of payment would have clarified the matter and ended speculation.
The total costs to date of defending Linda and David Orams against the claim by Meletios Apostolides is in excess if GBP 1 million, and the case is continuing. The story about the dud cheque draws attention to the high political profile of the case.
The political importance of the case is based on the unresolved issue of property rights in Cyprus. During 1974, Greek Cypriots left their properties in the north and fled to the south of the island. Conversely, Turkish Cypriots left their properties in the south and moved to the north. These refugees are referred to as dispossessed persons and the EU has already affirmed that their property rights have not been extinguished by the passage of time.
The European Court of Justice has, on several occasions, ruled in favour of dispossessed Greek Cypriots in cases where the Turkish Army is occupying property vacated by fleeing refugees.
If a UK court accepts and registers the verdict of the South Nicosia court, which was in favour of Meletios Apostolides, then the UK assets of Linda and David Orams could be at risk. As the main purchasers of North Cyprus property are Britons seeking holiday homes in the sun, an adverse decision would effectively end the purchase of North Cyprus property by Britons.
It is highly unlikely that either the Orams or Mr Apostolides are themselves paying the enormous legal fees incurred. Linda Orams has stated this. It is generally thought that the Greek Republic of Cyprus is paying the fees of Meletios Apostolides and that the North Cyprus administration is paying the fees of Linda and David Orams. However, neither party will confirm this. Instead, reference is made to mysterious and anonymous private donors of funds.
Therefore to state that Cherie Blair received a cheque from either Turkey or the North Cyprus administration is in itself mischievous. To further allege that the cheque was dishonoured, is scandalous and defamatory.
However, the story has wide circulation on internet blogs and further rumours have surfaced. One rumour is that Cherie Blair agreed for her legal fees to be paid in kind, and is now the owner of several apartments in North Cyprus. One apartment is allegedly near Lapta, which is the location of the disputed property.
Cherie and Tony Blair have an interest in property investment. In 2002, they used the services of convicted fraudster Peter Foster to purchase two apartments in Bristol, one for the use of their son Euan, and the other as a rental investment.
It is further rumoured that Cherie Blair now owns several apartments in North Cyprus, which are held in trust, and that rental income is collected by a well known British estate agent.
The Greek Cypriot press were outraged at the fact that the wife of the then British Prime Minister was involved in a highly political case concerning North Cyprus property. If the current rumours are true, and Cherie Blair is the anonymous owner of several North Cyprus apartments, this outrage will be re-ignited.
Copyright © Leslie Hardy – 20 March 2009