Pandora: Finally, the talking is over for Hague

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The Independent Online

William Hague's long and lucrative association with the after-dinner speaking circuit has not ended on a happy note.

The shadow Foreign Secretary was on the books of the London-based agency JLA, where, as an "A-grade" speaker he could officially command one-off fees as high as £25,000. Such profitable pursuits are soon to be a thing of the past, following David Cameron's ruling that all frontbenchers abandon "outside interests" by the end of the year.

Those browsing JLA's website could be forgiven for presuming that Hague, like a typical Yorkshireman, had chosen to cling on to the bitter end. Yesterday, his costly services were still being proudly advertised. An unimpressed spokesman for the politician is anxious to clarify matters when I call. "It is not the first time JLA has done this," he snaps. "William did his last one back in September. They were asked to take him off the but they haven't. I suppose it makes the website look better."

Hague's ability to secure hefty sums predictably left many of his colleagues green with envy. It was mischievously claimed that he could even haggle about his appearance fees while being driven between political engagements.

Despite the obvious tensions, JLA's boss Jeremy Lee is keen to pay tribute to his star client. "It's the end of an era," he tells me. "He is the best speaker on the circuit, and not just out of the politicians. He will be sorely missed. They are very difficult shoes to fill."

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