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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

George Clooney's Wife, Amal Clooney Back To Work - Leaves Athens Hotel Ahead Of Meeting To Advise Greece On How To Get Britain To Return The Elgin Marbles


Lawyer Amal Clooney left her hotel in Athens, Greece, on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with Greece's Minister of Culture and Sports, Konstantinos Tasoulas.

Fresh from her wedding to Hollywood heart-throb George Clooney last month, Amal arrived in Athens to advise the government on how to convince Britain to return the Elgin Marbles.

The famous classical Greek marble structures are currently housed in London's British Museum.

Flanked by a small team, Clooney, 36, carried a lever arch file of paperwork with her and appeared to be in high spirits as she left the venue, walking past a crowd of journalists and passers by.


She cut a smart figure in a white midi dress which had a green detail at the front, as well as the hem and the sleeves.

Amal recently returned from her honeymoon in Marrakech with the Hollywood actor and jetted out to Greece on Monday in her role as advisor.


Dressed in a simple white cardigan and khaki trousers, the new Mrs Clooney was spotted chatting happily to British Airways staff at the check-in gates at London's Heathrow airport.

She later landed in Athens to a flurry of media attention.


Amal and her boss, Geoffrey Robertson QC, of London’s Doughty Street chambers, will hold a series of meetings with government officials during their stay, relating to the return of the Parthenon sculptures.



It comes two weeks after Mrs Clooney married actor George Clooney in a lavish wedding in Venice, Italy, on September 27, which reportedly cost around £8million.

Since the ceremony, the human rights laywer has changed her professional name to Amal Clooney - losing her maiden name - according to a listing on the website of Doughty Street chambers.


It reads: 'Amal Clooney is a barrister specialising in international law, extradition and criminal law.'


Mrs Clooney's choice of the Greece trip as her first official duty after her honeymoon was perhaps a wedding present to her husband who, earlier this year, waded into the centuries-old dispute over the Elgin Marbles, favouring the Greek side.


The 7th Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, removed the Parthenon Marble sculptures from the Acropolis in Athens while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803.

The relics, known as the Elgin Marbles, are sculptures mostly by Phidias and his assistants.


In 1801, the Earl claimed to have obtained a permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon and his agents removed half of the surviving sculptures, as well as architectural members and sculpture from the Propylaea and Erechtheum.


They were shipped to Britain, but in Greece, the Scots aristocrat was accused of looting. They were bought by the British Government and are still on display in the British Museum.

Greece has sought their return from the British Museum through the years, to no avail.


In February, while attending the Berlin Film Festival to promote The Monuments Men, Mr Clooney was asked by a Greek journalist whether Britain should allow Greece to reclaim its historic art.


He replied: ‘You have a very good case. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were returned. That is a good idea, a fair thing to do.’

The Hollywood star’s involvement in the debate was not entirely welcomed.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said: ‘I suspect George Clooney doesn’t know the history of the Elgin Marbles and the legal entitlement Britain has to them.’

And a British Museum spokesman said at the time that trustees ‘feel there is a public benefit to having the sculptures in our collection remain part of our collection’.


Greece says it is no longer an issue of ownership and that it would accept them back as a permanent loan, but the museum said the Greek government would first have to relinquish its claim to them.

The day before, Amal was pictured waiting to board a plane at Heathrow Airport in London, opting for a simpler look as she got ready to return to work.

Amal, who attracted the attention of passengers at the airport, caught a three and a half hour flight to Athens to advise the Greek government about the sculptures.


Doughty Street confirmed Mrs Clooney had travelled to Athens, where she will remain until Thursday, at the invitation of the Greek government ‘in connection with the Parthenon sculptures that are presently on display in the British museum’.


A statement said: ‘Mr Robertson and Mrs Clooney were first asked to provide legal advice to the Greek government on this matter in 2011.

‘They will be holding a series of meetings with government officials during their stay, including the Prime Minister, Mr Antonis Samaras, and the Minister of Culture, Mr Konstantinos Tasoulas.’

Fluent in French and Arabic, Lebanese-born Mrs Clooney is a barrister specialising in international law, human rights, extradition and criminal law.


She has represented clients in cases before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as in domestic courts in the UK and US.

She wed her Academy Award-winning beau last month in a romantic ceremony in Venice.

More than 100 guests - including Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Sandra Bullock - flew to Venice to see her get married in a stunning custom-made Oscar de la Renta dress.

They began arriving by chauffeur-driven taxi boats for the nuptials shortly before 6.30pm on the day, with Damon the first to arrive.

Wave after wave of guests were ferried to the waterfront entrance of the exclusive hotel over a period of 20 mins, which culminated in Mr Clooney's arrival just before 7pm as the sun was setting.

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