Linda and David Orams - Cherie Blair and North Cyprus Property Rental Tax
North Cyprus Orams
12 June 2012
Cherie Blair and North Cyprus
12 June 2012 - Cherie Blair and North Cyprus Property Rental Tax
When Ms Blair defended Linda and David Orams in the landmark case concerning the rights of a dispossessed Greek Cypriot, it was reported in 2009 that she was given a cheque for her legal fees which ‘bounced' when presented to her bank. The report then went on to state that she was given two apartments in North Cyprus in lieu of payment. See this story about Cherie Blair and the Bounced Cheque
Since that time, she has been no stranger to property controversy. In 2002 she assisted her son Euan Blair to find accommodation while at Bristol University by purchasing two apartments. These were allegedly bought at a significant discount due to the efforts of the Australian Peter Foster, who had been convicted for fraud in September 2000 on an unrelated matter.
Peter Foster was, by all accounts, a credible and engaging person. He was introduced to Cherie Blair by her fitness advisor Carole Caplin, and performed well in his assistance for the purchase. It is unfortunate that he did not disclose his past record to Cherie Blair. Several UK newspapers highlighted this story and questioned Cherie Blair's judgment, and this episode did sour her relations with the UK press for some time. It is easy to understand how Mrs Blair, with her busy work life, was impressed by Mr Foster and accepted his offer of assistance in good faith. It should also be stressed that there was never any suggestion that the purchase of the apartments was in any way questionable.
In May 2010, Land Registry records show that she and Euan paid £1.3million for a property in London. Shortly afterwards, an application was made to Westminster Council to convert the basement into a separate flat. This met with objections from neighbours and the application was withdrawn. However, the issue came to attention again when neighbours complained that the basement had been converted to a separate flat and that a letterbox and numberplate had been installed. This claim is under investigation by the Council. Using basements in large houses for a range of activities is popular in London and would not have drawn attention if prominent persons had not been involved. This is a relatively trivial matter, which will undoubtedly be resolved through negotiation.
Cherie Blair has apparently experienced problems in North Cyprus. The two apartments which were allegedly given to her in lieu of payment were rented out and managed by a well known British estate agent whose main office is in Kyrenia. It would appear that these apartments were never occupied by Cherie or Tony Blair, but they were rented out as short term holiday lets. It has been reported that rent was collected on Cherie Blair's apartment by the estate agent, and that he was authorised by Ms Blair to retain funds from the rent to pay the North Cyprus Property Rental Tax. This stands at 10% of the gross revenue and should be paid in arrears on the 15 th of every month. See this link about North Cyprus Property Rental Tax
The story now circulating is that the estate agent did retain the 10% but has never made any payments to the Tax Office, to the astonishment and dismay of the Blairs.
UPDATE OF 24 JUNE 2012
It has come to our attention that the source of this story is an ex employee of the Estate Agent, and although he has confirmed the story, he himself wishes to remain anonymous. Further, he has no documents to substantiate the allegation, no copies of emails between the Estate Agent and Cherie Blair, and cannot tell us the precise address of the two apartments in question. Therefore, on balance, it has been decided that it would be irresponsible to publish the name of the Estate Agent as it appears that the claim by the ex employee is scurrilous and probably malicious.
If we were to name the Estate Agent, who has a colourful reputation in North Cyprus, and was associated with Gary Robb, then we could be accused of defamation as the allegation would be damaging and, if challenged, we could not present evidence to substantiate the allegation.
With respect to Cherie Blair, the story does not damage her reputation, rather the contrary, as it is alleged that she made provision for the payment of TRNC Property Rental Tax. It could be argued that the claim that she accepted two apartments in TRNC in settlement or part settlement of her legal fees in the Orams case is defamatory. However, this story was widely circulating at the time, did not originate from ourselves, and she did represent Linda and David Orams in their defence of a claim by Meletis Apostolides.
In summary, it would appear that the series of stories circulating about Cherie Blair in North Cyprus blogs are fanciful rumours. While she did represent the Orams, there is no evidence to suggest that she has ever owned or rented apartments in North Cyprus, either in her own name or via a nominee. The story that she failed to pay Property Rental Tax is therefore also untrue.