London, Apr 15(ANI): Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie, has denied allegations that she had charged large sums of money for representing Gurkha veterans in legal cases.
Cherie said she had received a total of 4,600 pounds from the former soldiers for work undertaken to ensure that they got legal aid for a case against the British Government.
She further claimed that she had worked for the Gurkhas for less than half her normal fee for a year.
"Cherie Booth QC was paid a total of 4,600 pounds by the Gurkhas for her work, some of which was to enable them to claim legal aid, to which there is no automatic entitlement. She worked for them for less than half her normal fee for over a year, before other barristers and solicitors took over," The Independent quoted a statement from Cherie, as saying.
"Fortunately, the Legal Services Commission did agree to grant the Gurkhas legal aid, but because GAESO (Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Association) represented such a large number of Gurkhas, most of whom were in receipt of the Gurkha pension, the Commission ruled that they were required to pay a contribution [25 per cent] of their legal costs themselves," the statement added.
Cherie was responding to allegations by a Gurkha welfare group based in Nepal that she and Phil Shiner, a prominent civil rights lawyer, had "made money" out of the Gurkhas even though legal aid was awarded for the case.
The Gurkhas were awarded legal aid for their dispute with the British government, but it was set to cover only part of the legal fees, and Padam Bahadur Gurung of the GAESCO claims that the veterans have now been billed 147,230.78 pounds for the rest.
He said the organization had a letter from Shiner demanding 147,230.78 pounds in payment. (ANI)