Cherie to sue nanny's family for £15,000 over book

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The Independent Online

Cherie Blair has reignited the "nannygate" affair by bringing a £15,000 claim for damages against the mother and brother of the Blairs' former nanny, Ros Mark.

Cherie Blair has reignited the "nannygate" affair by bringing a £15,000 claim for damages against the mother and brother of the Blairs' former nanny, Ros Mark.

Six months ago, the Blairs' lawyers reached a settlement with Ms Mark over publication of the manuscript she had written about her time at Downing Street. The Mark family, said to be furious over the new action, have instructed their lawyers to defend the claim on the grounds that it is a breach of their human rights. If the case goes to trial, as expected, it could rebound on Mrs Blair, who has gained a formidable reputation as a human-rights lawyer in the field of employment law.

Ms Mark's mother, Margaret, has been served with an injunction ordering her to hand over any confidential material relating to the Blair family. This includes material from the manuscript and information gleaned while she was a guest of the Blairs at their home in Islington and at Downing Street. In the renewed High Court action, Mrs Blair states that as a guest of the Blairs, Margaret Mark was under an implied obligation of confidentiality.

Ms Mark's brother, Thomas, who did domestic work for the Blairs, signed the same confidentiality agreement as his sister and has also been newly joined in the action.

David Price, the Marks' solicitor-advocate, said they would argue that the "draconian" confidentiality agreement and any implied obligation breached their right of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case is expected to be one of the first to test the right of freedom of expression against the right to privacy under the Human Rights Act, which comes into force in England and Wales on 2 October.

In the Marks' defence papers served on the Blairs yesterday Mr Price said: "We will be arguing that the agreement was a wholly disproportionate restriction on the Marks' freedom of expression."

The Marks are understood to be angry at the way they have been treated by the Blairs and their "heavy-handed" lawyers.

"It has never been their intention," said Mr Price, "to pick a fight with the Blairs - but Mrs Blair has chosen to fight them in her own arena. It has now become a matter of principle for the family."

Mr Price said neither Ros nor Thomas Mark were offered legal advice before they signed the confidentiality clauses.