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Greece advised “use it or loose it” with Marbles legal action

More coverage of the advice received by Greece [1] from the legal team (which despite what the Daily Mail would like you to believe, is not led by Amal Clooney – she is merely one of the three members) on the case for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens [2]

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

Daily Mail [3]

Amal Clooney advises Greece to take British Museum to international court to win back Elgin Marbles, saying: ‘It’s now or never’
By Jenny Stanton For Mailonline
Published: 09:27, 13 May 2015 | Updated: 10:18, 13 May 2015

Amal Clooney has told Greece it’s ‘now or never’ to win back the Elgin Marbles and has advised it to take the British Museum to the International Court of Justice.

The human rights lawyer, whose London Doughty Street Chambers in London has been advising the Greek government on possible action, has filed a 150-page report outlining a strategy to ensure the return of the 5th century BC statues.

They were removed from the Acropolis in Athens by the Earl of Elgin in the early nineteenth century, and were bought by the British Government in 1816 and placed in the British Museum.

According to The Times, George Clooney’s lawyer wife, together with her colleague Geoffrey Robertson, said: ‘It’s now or never.’

The lengthy report suggested taking the British Museum to the international court because it could be expensive to pursue other routes, including in London or the European Union.

The report also said there would only be a 15 per cent chance of winning if the legal battle were to take place in London, The Times reported.

Greece has sought their return from the British Museum through the years to no avail, and the marbles still stand on view in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery.

Both Mrs Clooney and her husband have both spoken passionately on the subject.

Mrs Clooney said in October: ‘The Greek government has just cause and it’s time for the British Museum to recognise that and return them to Greece. The injustice has persisted for too long.

‘The Greek government has the right to ask for the return of the marbles, 200 years after they were taken to the United Kingdom.’

Last year, while attending the Berlin Film Festival to promote The Monuments Men, George 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.’

Thirty-seven-year-old Oxford graduate Mrs Clooney is one of the most prominent human rights lawyers in the UK, having represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his attempts to fight being extradited to Sweden.


The Elgin Marbles are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that were mostly created by Phidias and his assistants.

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

In 1801, the Earl claimed to have obtained a permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon.

As the Acropolis was still an Ottoman military fort, Elgin required permission to enter the site.

His agents subsequently removed half of the surviving sculptures, as well as architectural members and sculpture from the Propylaea and Erechtheum.

The excavation and removal was completed in 1812 at a personal cost of around £70,000.

The sculptures were shipped to Britain, but in Greece, the Scots aristocrat was accused of looting and vandalism.

They were bought by the British Government in 1816 and placed in the British Museum. They still stand on view in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery.

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

The authenticity of Elgin’s permit to remove the sculptures from the Parthenon has been widely disputed, especially as the original document has been lost. Many claim it was not legal.

However, others argue that since the Ottomans had controlled Athens since 1460, their claims to the artefacts were legal and recognisable.

Greek Travel Pages [4]

Parthenon Marbles to Return to Greece… ‘Now or Never’
Posted On 12 May 2015

The time has come for the Greek government to decide whether it wants to take legal action for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, currently held by the British Museum, according to a confidential legal memo the three lawyers representing Greece, sent the culture ministry, as revealed in Greek daily Kathimerini over the weekend.

The three London-based lawyers — Amal Alamuddin, Geoffrey Robertson and Norman Palmer — sent a 10-page memo identifying the three basic considerations before the Greek government takes action: what court of law should address the issue, at what cost and the chances of success.

The legal team discussed these issues while visiting Athens last October. The memo also lists five different approaches, these include, recourse to a court in Greece, Britain, the US, the International Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. Of these, legal action in the US has been rejected.

The prominent team of lawyers is initially aiming to have the Greek authorities notify the British government and the British Museum with a version of the legal study along with a letter to the Prime Minister for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. Should they refuse, they will officially launch a legal claim.

For over three decades, Greece has repeatedly called on the British Museum to return the 2,500-year-old marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon and have been the subject of dispute since they were illegally removed and taken out of the country by the Earl of Elgin in 1803, later to be housed in the British Museum.