A children's hospice has been forced to close just days after its official opening in an effort to raise the cash to meet the appearance fee of Cherie Blair.
The Prime Minister's wife spent 15 minutes at Greenside Hospice in Somerset where she unveiled a plaque, commemorating the £250,000 raised by public subscription to provide the 12-bed unit for terminally ill youngsters.
But immediately after declaring the hospice officially open, Mrs Blair demanded a £350,000 fee to cover her own costs and the expenses incurred for her entourage, which included her agent, publicist, manager, secretary, hairdresser, manicurist, masseur and astronomer.
Her demand stunned staff and volunteers who were under the impression that the top barrister was giving her services free to support a worthy cause.
"I am astonished and furious," said the Rev. Hiram Holliday. "There was a terrible kerfuffle when Mrs Blair demanded the money and, when we said we didn't have that level of funding, she vowed she would sue every single person on the management board.
"She's just a greedy cow - and she took a lot of the toys away with her as well."
Within two days the hospice had been served with an injunction forcing "all ‘trade' to stop forthwith until restitution to the sum of £350,000 has been made".
Ten of the children managed to be accommodated in hospitals, though in some cases many hundreds of miles away from their parents. Two, however, had to be abandoned in a ditch.
The hospice has now been placed on the property market and interest has been expressed by Booth Developments which sees the building as ideal for conversion into student accommodation.
Diana Dixie, Mrs Blair's depute publicist, was unapologetic over the situation.
"It is a common misconception that Cherie, while being wealthy in her own right, operates as a charitable endorsement of whatever cause just happens along," she said.
"The fact that these approaches are made, underlines the fact that she is recognised as a national and international icon.
"If you want someone of that standing, then there is a price to pay.
"The hospice was naïve but, hopefully, it will be salutary lesson to others."