Lawyer Cherie Blair goes into battle to help peer and ex SAS officer who was evicted from his £9million mansion in Cyprus
Tony and Cherie Blair own 38 properties worth £33 million, so they know all about the challenges of home ownership.
Now I can reveal Cherie is going into battle on behalf of a hereditary peer — Richard Bethell, the 6th Lord Westbury, a former Scots Guards and SAS officer — who was evicted earlier this year from his £9 million, six-bedroom home in Cyprus where he has lived since 2004.
‘It’s a lovely villa,’ says one of Westbury’s old military friends of the property, which looks out over the Mediterranean.
‘The case is being taken to the European Court of Human Rights by Cherie Blair’s firm, Omnia.’
Cherie Blair is going into battle on behalf of a hereditary peer — Richard Bethell, the 6th Lord Westbury, a former Scots Guards and SAS officer
I’m told that Westbury took a three-year lease on the house in 2004, signing a contract with its female owner which stipulated that he had the right to buy at ‘a fixed price, at the end of the three years’.
But when, three years later, Westbury announced his decision to buy the property, he received a rude awakening.
‘She tried to evict him, so Richard took it to the court in Cyprus, which ruled in his favour,’ says the friend.
‘But the owner then appealed and the Cyprus Supreme Court recently voted, by a 2-1 majority, in her favour.
Rose Bethell with her father Lord Westbury at The Hero Inside Book by Gill Shaw Launch in Aid of Help For Heroes at the Guards Museum at Wellington Barracks in Westminster, London
What was worse, the Supreme Court said that, because it was a lease-to-buy agreement, he was to pay about £2.7 million (3 million euros), and ruled that he was to be evicted in 60 days.’
However, Westbury, who was decorated for service in the Falklands War in 1982, is disinclined to surrender — hence his alliance with Cherie when he takes the battle to the European Court of Human Rights.
The 68-year-old Westbury, founder of the Hart Group, which provides ‘specialised security services’ around the world, was unavailable yesterday, while Omnia says that it never discusses clients’ cases.
Nigel Farage was on fiery form, badmouthing fellow guest Russell Brand at the British Curry Awards in Battersea.‘Ghastly man,’ said Farage. ‘Someone with a sense of humour put me on the same table as Vince Cable but that’s different, you can have a difference of opinion and be civil.
That is not what you get with Brand.’ Brand labelled Farage a ‘pound shop Enoch Powell’ when they shared a panel on Question Time. ‘I’ve never forgotten it,’ shivers Farage. ‘A man so vain he had two make-up artists just to attend to his chest hair.’
Most people would be thrilled to have a six-figure salary, but BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson, who is paid up to £200,000 annually, has been left wanting.
‘Netflix pour money into their shows and it’s very hard to say no to that,’ he tells me at the launch of his novel, Moscow, Midnight, at Daunt Books in Marylebone. ‘I say grandly, of course I’d carry on working for the BBC, but if Netflix came to me and offered me millions upon millions, I’d probably work for them.’
Simpson, 74, whose salary was revealed last year, adds: ‘It would have been better if the BBC didn’t disclose the top salaries simply because it just makes it easy for competitors to cherry-pick the best performers.’
Ian Paisley Jr: I turned down I’m A Celeb’s 100k
It seems notoriety pays for Ian Paisley Jr, who was suspended from Parliament for 30 sitting days earlier this year over unregistered free jaunts to Sri Lanka.
‘I was offered over £100,000 to do I’m A Celebrity . . .’ the MP for North Antrim tells me at the William Hill Sport Book awards at BAFTA, ‘but my wife said: “You can go — but me and the kids won’t be here when you come back.”
‘I’d have loved to do it — the jungle can’t be worse than West Belfast.’ And it’s not like there’s any pressing Commons business . . .
All Smiles: Meghan’s aide who quit Palace
The Duchess of Sussex’s closest aide — who quit suddenly just six months after the American actress married into the Royal Family — became good friends with her previous employers, the pop star Robbie Williams and his wife, Ayda Field.
Here is Melissa Touabti, whose full identity I revealed yesterday, pictured near left, on a day out with Ayda, a fellow judge on The X Factor with Williams.
Ayda Williams (left) with Melissa Touabti. In a sign of their closeness, Melissa, a 39-year-old French woman, has her right arm around Ayda, also 39
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In a sign of their closeness, Melissa, a 39-year-old French woman, has her right arm around Ayda, also 39.
Ayda’s daughter with Williams, Theodora, who was a bridesmaid at Princess Eugenie’s wedding, plays just out of shot by their side.
When the Diary disclosed earlier this month that Melissa had resigned as Meghan’s PA, a Palace source said: ‘It’s a real shock. Why would she want to leave such a prestigious job so soon?’
Even though TV historian Dan Snow is married to Lady Edwina Grosvenor, daughter of the 6th Duke of Westminster, he has no intention of giving up the day job. ‘No one in my family ever retires,’ he says.
‘My dad [former Newsnight presenter] Peter is still writing and my grandad, who was a doctor, worked into his 80s.’ Adds Dan, whose latest book is On This Day In History: ‘I know some historians who write their best works in their 70s and 80s — so hopefully the best is yet to come.’
Tuxedo Royale … Prince and the Bond producer
Prince Edward, was delighted to meet James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli (pictured right) at the National Youth Theatre Gala
Prince Edward, who worked for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group for two years after leaving the Royal Marines, has always hankered to be a thespian.
So he was delighted to meet James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli at the National Youth Theatre Gala at the Cafe Royal in London this week.
Some guests joked that Edward, 54, sporting a debonair black tuxedo and bow tie, might be sneakily auditionning for the role of the fictional spy. After all, Broccoli, 58, is still said to be scouting for a new 007 . . .
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