No one can have missed the wave of media attention over the last few days over a team of lawyers visiting Athens for consultations over the viability of legal action for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. You probably would have missed the story though, had it not been for one of the members on the team – the newly married Amal Clooney, formerly Alamuddin.
A lot of misinformation has permeated the press, relating to this story, as they are more drawn to the aspects of celebrity involvement than anything else.
First of all, Amal is not there merely because of her husband’s fame. I know for a fact that she has been researching the possibility of a case involving the Parthenon Sculptures, since at least 2011.
Secondly, she is not going to save Greece’s antiquities, as many sources claimed. I am sure she would be the first to agree with me on this one. She is there as by far the most junior member of a team of three very highly regarded lawyers. The other two, Geoffrey Robertson & Professor Norman Palmer already have significant experience in the field of cultural property restitution, such as bringing about changes in English law, to allow the return of all Aboriginal human remains held in Britain’s museums. She is no doubt a key member of the team, but anyone who suggests that she is the one leading the fight has clearly not researched things very well.
However, the draw of celebrities (& she seems to be treated as one because of her husband) in the media is immense. The amount of publicity it has given the issue can only help, particularly as the campaign for return is seen as having the young attractive intelligent one that the media loves on their side. Like Melina Mercouri before her, she gives a vibrancy to the campaign that lifts it above one of arguing academics & makes it something that is lapped up by the category of newspapers who would never normally show the slightest interest in such a story.
I was struck though, by the slightly peculiar lines of questioning by some of the press though – I noticed in more than one article that Amal was asked about what her husband thought about her work on the Marbles. Whether this is out of the fact that he is a celebrity, or that she is female, or that the journalists are trying to create a story when there is none, is unclear. But the fact remains, that neither of the other two lawyers were ever asked this question.
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I decided to ask the famous author Kathy Lette (who is also the wife of Geoffrey Robertson), for her views on the Marbles, just so that if the media wants to ask her husband, the answer is already out there.
So – here it is. An exclusive story first published here – Kathy Lette’s views on the Parthenon Marbles restitution:
My view on the Elgin Marbles is how amusing it is to see the press pack losing their marbles over Amal.
Amal’s interest in the Acropolis has given the men of the world a real edifice complex!
So there you have it – we are still none the wiser what her real thoughts on the subject are – so I can’t add her to my list of supporters just yet…