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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
Blair's country guests revealed
Charlotte Church
Charlotte Church was among Mr Blair's final guests
Singer Charlotte Church and her rugby star boyfriend Gavin Henson were among guests at Tony Blair's country retreat in the final months of his premiership.

Also on the Chequers guest list, released under the Freedom of Information Act, were TV presenters Lorraine Kelly and Richard Madeley.

Television host June Sarpong and DJ Chris Evans were entertained there too between April 2006 and 27 June, 2007.

Mr Blair also received an iPod from Arnold Schwarzenegger, documents show.

The gift was included in the Cabinet Office's list of ministerial gifts valued over 140.

Among the gifts given to the prime minister before his departure were four rugs, silverware from the president of Algeria, glassware from the Austrian government and a tea set from the Sri Lankan government.

For reasons that defy rational explanation the government has been treating the fact that Tony Blair enjoyed drinks with Vernon Kaye and Charlotte Church as a state secret
Norman Lamb
Liberal Democrat

Wine was offered by the government of Saudi Arabia and coins from the Amir of Kuwait.

All the gifts were held by his department rather than being accepted personally by the PM.

Presents worth up to 140 can be kept, and are not published, but more valuable gifts are given to the department for disposal.

Ministers can purchase the gifts if they want, less the 140.

Work and pensions secretary John Hutton bought 12 bottles of wine from HSBC, valued at 155, while leader of the House of Lords Baroness Amos bought a jacket valued at 200 and a bag worth 244.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett purchased a jewellery box, cufflinks and a bowl, totalling 500, from among the six gifts given to her department.

Silver sword and bike

Gifts retained by the departments included a silver sword presented to the lord chancellor by the president of Yemen, and a bicycle from Corus to Sports Minister Richard Caborn.

Other Chequers guests included England coach Steve McLaren, former distance runner Brendan Foster, journalists David Aaronovitch, Adrian Chiles and Jane Garvey, and businessmen such as James Dyson and Pepsi chief executive Indra Nooyi.

Labour politicians, including Mr Blair's deputy John Prescott and ex-home secretary David Blunkett, were also wined and dined at Chequers.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu also graced the table.

Delay

Liberal Democrat frontbencher Norman Lamb, who had asked for the list of guests, said: "Many of the names on this list reveal the frivolity and celebrity-obsessed nature of the Blair administration.

"However, it is absolutely staggering that it has taken so long to extract this information."

He criticised the government for not releasing the information earlier, saying: "For reasons that defy rational explanation the government has been treating the fact that Tony Blair enjoyed drinks with Vernon Kay and Charlotte Church as a state secret."




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