Human rights attorney Amal Clooney was dropped from her role in representing the Greek government as a legal advisor in proposed legal action against the British Museum to win back the Parthenon Marbles.
The government, during a parliamentary meeting, announced that it “will not proceed with legal claims because we are at risk of losing the case,” according to Culture minister Aristides Baltas. ‘We will not proceed with legal claims because we are at risk of losing the case,’ he said.
Instead, Greek officials will pursue diplomatic channels involving a European Council directive on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from a member state.
The marbles were famously ripped off (literally) 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 where they have been on display ever since.
The ownership debate has been going on for years. Numerous books have been written on the issue and activists and groups from throughout the world have been urging the British Museum to return the marbles to Athens
Clooney and her British law firm, Doughty Street Chambers, were retained by the previous government of then prime minister Antonis Samaras— and paid— by an unnamed Greek shipping magnate, on behalf of the government to pursue legal action. The fees were a reported £200,000 (approximately $300,000) according to London’s Daily Mail.
Clooney and her team of international lawyers recently delivered a 150-page report to the Greek government advising them on their legal options for the case, which included a recommendation to take Britain to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The government rejected the suggestion.
Mr Baltas told The Times that losing in court ‘would strip Greece of the right to reclaim the Marbles once and for all’, meaning that it would be better to pursue ‘political and diplomatic’ options to assert its claim.