‘Cheriegate’ conman brings new embarrassment to Blairs

Fraudster returns to haunt PM

The Australian conman involved in the “Cheriegate affair” has surfaced again with a string of new and extraordinary claims about life inside Downing Street as he tries to promote a book covering his relations with the Blairs.

Downing Street yesterday dismissed his allegations published in Australia that the Prime Minister had an unusually close relationship with Carole Caplin, his wife Cherie’s personal adviser for almost a decade.

Peter Foster, a jailed conman, was at the centre of the financial scandal that broke around Cherie Blair in late 2002 when he helped her buy two flats in Bristol, the university city of her son Euan.

In a series of unsubstantiated claims, Foster – currently living in Australia’s Gold Coast – said that Caplin, who was his fiancée until the fallout of the Cheriegate affair saw their brief relationship end, had an “extraordinary influence” over Blair.

He claimed that the political establishment in Britain would be astonished if they realised how reliant Blair had become on the former topless model and dancer turned New Age lifestyle consultant.

The revelations are also set to appear in an extended form next week in Vanity Fair, a respected US magazine. Foster said that although Cherie Blair and Carole Caplin were good friends “the true relationship is between Carole and Tony”.

Foster has been fined and served jail in the UK, the US and Australia.

Downing Street dismissed his allegations and a spokeswoman said: “Peter Foster is merely trying to drum up publicity for his book. We have no intention of commenting.”

Carole Caplin, who was initially reluctant to comment on the claims, later attacked Foster, stating: “This is just a new way for Peter to get attention. He is just a fantasist and these absurd stories shouldn’t be given any credibility.”

Foster has been working on his autobiography since he was deported to Australia from Dublin in January last year. The book, A Question Of Deceit, is reported to be due for publication within weeks. Foster’s comments yesterday will be seen as part of the hard-sell of a convicted fraudster.

He says the relationship between Blair and Caplin involved “long walks in the woods around Chequers” and that they phoned each other at night, holding lengthy conversations.

During his own engagement to Caplin, Foster says he discovered that:

“Carole was in love with Tony and I was caught in that triangle.

“The intensity and the closeness of their relationship was something saw, was amazed and annoyed by.”

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