Greek Government Drops Amal Clooney From Elgin Marbles Lawsuit

If Greece loses in court, its fight could be over forever.

Amal Clooney, George Clooney.
Photo: Nicholas Hunt/

Amal Clooney, the barrister wife of movie star George Clooney, has been dropped by the Greek government from her high-profile role as a legal advisor on the effort to secure the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens. The shakeup is no fault of Clooney’s, however. The Greek government has, for the time being, decided not to pursue legal action against the British Museum, where the marbles are currently held.

Greek culture minister Aristides Baltas said during a press conference on December 9 that the government “will not proceed with legal claims because we are at risk of losing the case.” If Greece lost the case against the museum in International Court, their fight to reclaim the marbles could be over forever.

Greek officials are now meeting to discuss a European Council directive on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from a member state. The marbles were famously taken from the Parthenon sometime between 1801 and 1805 by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin, who sold them to the British government. They arrived at the British Museum in 1816. While Elgin allegedly had permission from the Ottoman Empire (which ruled Greece at the time) to remove the sculptures, the Greek government has long protested British ownership of the marbles.

Parthenon Frieze, West. Detail. Photo: WIkipedia.

Parthenon Frieze, West. Detail.
Photo: WIkipedia.

“We now have more allies,” said Baltas. “This is upping the pressure, but the British Museum is resisting.”

Earlier this year, advice by Clooney and her British law firm, Doughty Street Chambers, was rejected by the Greek government. Clooney vehemently urged the nation to file a claim against the British in International Court, stating that it was a case of “now or never.”

Since the Greek government has decided once and for all not to file the claim, and to pursue more diplomatic measures, the legal services of Mrs. Clooney and her legal team are no longer required. “Not for now, at least,” said Baltas.

The Daily Mail reports that Clooney’s fee—believed to be £200,000—has been paid in full, thanks to a wealthy Greek shipping magnate who stepped in when the Greek government could no longer keep the firm on retainer.

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