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While Tony Blair can look forward to cracking open the Bollinger on New Year’s Eve at his £5.75?million mansion in Bucks, having added to his wealth by at least £20?million since he left No 10, things are very different for his wife’s pretty, blonde half-sister, Lauren Booth.
Indeed, so poverty-stricken is Lauren, 43, that she has just been forced to declared herself bankrupt.
Lauren, a writer, broadcaster and human rights activist who recently converted to Islam in an extraordinary epiphany after she visited a shrine in Iran, is named in the London Gazette as having petitioned for bankruptcy in the run-up to Christmas.
Among other things, her insolvency means she will have difficulty using a credit card, she cannot be a company director for up to 15 years, cannot run a company, is forbidden to stand as an MP, and there may even be problems over her bank account.
Extraordinarily, one of her creditors is Cherie, who lent her £15,000 last year, but which Lauren has failed to pay back. I gather Lauren wrote to her wealthy sister in April pleading for help, and Cherie reluctantly agreed to bail her out.
Cherie, who shares the same father with Lauren — Till Death Us Do Part actor Tony Booth — understandably felt Lauren had a cheek to ask her for money, considering how critical Lauren has been over Blair’s role in the war in Iraq. She has written at length on the subject.
Mother-of-two Lauren’s financial plight comes as she goes through a divorce from her actor husband Craig Darby, having returned to Britain last year after their dream of a new life in France collapsed.
Now giving a flat in Muswell Hill, North London, as her address to the Bankruptcy Division of the High Court, Lauren admits her finances have been in a mess for some time.
She is in negative equity on her farmhouse in the Dordogne, where she moved six years ago, and she has described how her French idyll went wrong, saying: ‘I never trained as an accountant. We were soon in trouble, with the banks and with the taxman.’
I am told: ‘Cherie was adamant it would be strictly a short-term loan till her sister could get back on her feet. Cherie had a lawyer draw up a contract which stretched to several pages and insisted Lauren sign it before she wrote out the cheque.
‘She wanted everything done legally so she would be sure of getting her money back.’
Now Cherie will have to line up with all the other creditors.
In the meantime, I am just waiting for Booth to blame her predicament on the Zionists.