Who is real Cherie Booth: working mum or first lady?

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The Independent Online

When is she a private citizen and when is she wife of the Prime Minister? Cherie Blair created fresh controversy when she appeared in Washington at a private speaking event only to be introduced by the British ambassador, Sir David Manning.

When is she a private citizen and when is she wife of the Prime Minister? Cherie Blair created fresh controversy when she appeared in Washington at a private speaking event only to be introduced by the British ambassador, Sir David Manning.

Sir David, the Prime Minister's former foreign policy adviser, introduced Mrs Blair before a fee-paying audience of 2,000 people on Monday evening at the Kennedy Centre. The event had been billed as a night with the "first lady of Downing Street" and reports suggested Mrs Blair could earn up to £30,000.

The appearance of Sir David and the fact that Mrs Blair stayed at the British embassy further fuelled controversy about the event. The Conservatives had said Mrs Blair should donate her fee to charity and the shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Chris Grayling, said the talk went against the spirit of the ministerial code, which prevents ministers making money from commercial activities relating to their job. Mr Grayling has now written to the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and asked why a senior civil servant participated in a "purely commercial" event on behalf of Mrs Blair.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "That is the normal procedure, that the British ambassador would introduce or accompany any prominent British citizen visiting Washington." Officials at the British Embassy listed the names of half a dozen high profile Britons who have been introduced at similar events by the Ambassador.

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