Cherie gets £40,000 for documentary - but is giving it to charity

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Indy Politics

Cherie Blair is to be paid an estimated £40,000 to make a two-hour documentary about living inside Downing Street. The Channel 4 programme is based on her book, The Goldfish Bowl, about the history of No 10's spouses. But on this occasion the Prime Minister's wife will not be pocketing the cash - she has made it clear that the fee will go to charity.

Cherie Blair is to be paid an estimated £40,000 to make a two-hour documentary about living inside Downing Street. The Channel 4 programme is based on her book, The Goldfish Bowl, about the history of No 10's spouses. But on this occasion the Prime Minister's wife will not be pocketing the cash - she has made it clear that the fee will go to charity.

Mrs Blair has also decided not to go ahead with a charity event that included opening a shopping mall in Malaysia. Downing Street confirmed last night that she was "no longer able to attend" a £2,500-a-head dinner at the Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur next month.

Reports of her attendance at the mall's opening beside the TV star David Hasselhoff and Shirley Bassey deepened unease about Mrs Blair's apparent willingness to trade on her husband's position.

The Prime Minister's wife was paid £90,000 for three talks in the US last October and £100,000 for a tour in Australia organised by a cancer charity.

She already faces an investigation from an official anti-sleaze watchdog that is preparing to overhaul the rules governing ministerial conduct to include spouses.

A source close to the Committee on Standards in Public Life was quoted in The Mail on Sunday as saying: "When parish councillors have to declare it if they receive so much as a free cabbage from a local resident we have a moral duty to act when the Prime Minister's wife is earning five-figure sums primarily by her association with No 10."

Her latest venture is unlikely to cause as much controversy, especially since she is donating her fee to charity. Provisionally entitled Married to the Prime Minister, it will show Mrs Blair interviewing her surviving predecessors: Clarissa Eden, Mary Wilson and Norma Major. She will also speak to former colleagues and friends of dead prime ministers and their spouses.

Great Ormond Street Hospital in London reportedly agreed to a request from Mrs Blair to take a documentary crew there as part of the programme, although the occasion was billed as a private visit.

Several staff at the hospital were reportedly unhappy. "We are not talking about Princess Diana here. This was for a commercial documentary which is going to make someone a lot of money," one staff member was quoted as saying.

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