Cherie makes Nicosia see red

Nicosia – (AFP) Cyprus was left fuming yesterday after British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife joined a hugely sensitive case involving property in the breakaway Turkish-held north of the divided island. Cherie Blair, a top lawyer by profession, is taking on the representation of a British couple, Linda and David Orams, who have been told to demolish their home in the north for illegally building on land belonging to a Greek-Cypriot refugee. Her move threatened to spark a diplomatic incident, with President Tassos Papadopoulos denouncing her involvement as a «provocative action» and the Greek-Cypriot media condemning the prime minister’s wife in the harshest terms. Nationalist Machi newspaper yesterday described Cherie Blair as a «an advocate to crime» on its front page. It said Blair’s involvement in the case was a «bombshell to Cyprus and caused a strong reaction.» Papadopoulos said Nicosia had made its displeasure known to Britain, although he had not raised the issue in person with Tony Blair at last week’s EU summit in Brussels. «It’s a provocative action for many reasons, as it is difficult to separate the fact that she is taking on a case concerning human rights’ violations, the right to property, and she is the wife of the British prime minister,» Papadopoulos told reporters on Saturday. He said the Foreign Ministry has already made «strong protests» to Britain, even though the British High Commission in Nicosia issued a statement saying Cherie Blair was acting in a «professional capacity.» A Cypriot court has ordered the Orams to pay compensation to Meletios Apostolides for building on his property without permission and has threatened to seize their assets in Britain if they do not comply with the local ruling.