Tony Blair's office deny claims he failed to appear at hunger conference because of dispute over his '£330,000 fee'

Spokesperson says the former PM had 'prior commitments'

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair’s office has denied reports that plans for him to speak at the world hunger forum beginning this week in Stockholm fell down over his £330,000 fee.

The conference, organised by the food company Eat, booked former US president Bill Clinton to speak last year for £327,000, but according to a “source” baulked at the idea of paying the former British prime minister a similar fee.

According to the Mail, Mr Blair was approached by the Kruger Cowne talent agency with the suggestion that he speak in exchange for a large donation to the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, but after months of talks Eat dropped out due to the fee involved.

“Blair is just not Clinton, and even his star power is fast diminishing,” the source reportedly said. Eat’s executive producer Odd Arvid Stromstad told the paper the fee was “quite high, so we didn’t want to go into it”.

In a statement, Mr Blair’s office said there had been no negotiations over “the amount of money he would be earning” because “he would not have earned anything” from the appearance.

“[Krugar Cowne] approached the foundation out of the blue, representing Eat… and asked if Mr Blair would give the keynote speech in exchange for a donation to the foundation.”

The statement denied Stromstad’s claim that talks broke down over the fee, saying: “Mr Blair was unable to [attend] because prior commitments meant it would be logistically impossible.”