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Cherie’s mortgage man faces trial

London, Dec. 7: The accountant who arranged Cherie Blair’s mortgage on two flats in Bristol is awaiting trial at the Old Bailey on charges relating to suspected money laundering.

Andrew Axelsen was recommended to the Prime Minister’s wife by Peter Foster, the convicted fraudster who helped her negotiate the purchase of the flats.

It also emerged yesterday that Martin Williams, a solicitor suggested by Foster to do the conveyancing on the property deal, is a co-defendant in the same trial.

The latest revelations will cause more embarrassment to Cherie Blair and the Prime Minister at the end of a week of appalling publicity for Downing Street.

They will raise further questions about Cherie Blair’s judgment in using Foster, the boyfriend of her “lifestyle” guru Carole Caplin, to conduct property negotiations.

Last night a Downing Street spokesman refused to comment on the charges against the two men. He referred to a statement earlier in the day by the Prime Minister’s official spokesman which said the purchase of the flats had been entirely legal.

It was a private matter for Cherie Blair, he added.

On Thursday, following four days of denials by Downing Street, Cherie Blair admitted that Foster was involved in handling the purchase of the flats on her behalf. After Foster sent an e-mail to her explaining that “Andrew Axelsen will do the rest” Cherie Blair replied on October 31 saying: “You’re a star”.

Axelsen and Williams are linked to a fraud investigation into the alleged corrupt awarding of contracts for the construction of the Jubilee Line extension on the London Underground.

They are among a group of four defendants which includes Axelsen’s business partner Clifford Mills.

The trial relates to a long-running investigation by British transport police into the way multi-million pound Jubilee Line contracts were awarded.

Deputy chief inspector Ashley Croft, of the BTP commercial fraud team, said: “Andrew Axelsen, Martin Williams and Clifford Mills are jointly charged with conspiracy to furnish false information relating to suspected money laundering.”

Tony Blair refused to comment during a visit to Bristol yesterday.

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