The wife of the British prime minister Tony Blair, with whom she has four children, including one conceived during his premiership. She is also a successful barrister in her own right, for which she uses her maiden name of Cherie Booth. Cherie is often compared to Hillary Clinton, although with the caveat that Hillary Clinton would more than likely not be caught dead sharing certain of Cherie's new age enthusiasms.

A Lancashire lass, Cherie Blair was born in 1954; her father, Tony Booth, played Mike in the 1960s sit-com Till Death Us Do Part. Booth left Cherie and her mother when she was two years old, and his daughter by a subsequent relationship, Lauren Booth, is a journalist with a column in the weekly New Statesman and something of a big mouth.

After graduating first in her year from the London School of Economics, she met her future husband while they were both training for the Bar. Both ran for the 1983 general election, but Tony took the safe seat of Sedgefield, his base to this day, while Cherie pushed her luck attempting to overturn the true blue stronghold of Thanet North.

While Tony rose through the Labour Party ranks, Cherie became a specialist in employment law. In 1995 she became a Queen's Counsel, and in 2000 helped to set up Matrix Chambers, which focuses on human rights and shepherding cases towards the European Court of Justice. On occasion, her work calls for her to oppose the government or argue against its policy, which must make for interesting conversation around the breakfast table.

Cherie is not infrequently mocked for her faith in alternative medicine. She has something of a penchant for magnetic bracelets, turned up to the 2001 Labour conference sporting an acupuncture needle in one ear, and once spent £239 on a crystal pendant which was supposed to counter negativity. (If such claims are to be believed, her husband might be advised to invest in one before he next speaks to Gordon Brown.)

Cherie was reportedly introduced by her personal trainer, Carole Caplin, to a dowser called Jack Temple, an Ayurvedic therapist, and Caplin's own spiritualist mother Sylvia. Caplin the younger, a former topless model, had also been involved during the 1980s with a therapy cult called Exegesis.

Unfortunately for Cherie, Caplin also recommended her Australian boyfriend Peter Foster to Cherie in 2002 so that he could help her buy two flats in Bristol for her eldest son Euan, currently at university there. The money, according to 10 Downing Street, came from the sale of their old Islington home when they moved into the official residence.

Foster himself is no stranger to dodgy deals, and has convictions for trading standards fraud in three countries after marketing a series of questionable slimming aids, therapies of which the somewhat gaunt Cherie is likely to have little need.

Initial allegations, inevitably dubbed Cheriegate, that Foster had used the Blairs' name to obtain a discount of over £30,000 on the properties became overshadowed by the couple's evasiveness concerning Cherie's relationship with Foster. Had the disgraced Peter Mandelson still had Tony's ear, he might have counselled them that it's not what you did, it's the fact that you lied about it.

The tabloid press gratefully weighed into the affair with all guns blazing, one newspaper even going as far as to suggest that Caplin and Cherie were in the habit of showering together in the nude for the purposes of washing out the toxins.

After new allegations surfaced that Cherie had attempted to interfere in Foster's appeal against his deportation from the UK, she went public on December 10, 2002, saying that she had only engaged him because she was too busy to handle the negotiations herself, and had only misled the press office to protect the privacy of Euan, already well-known to the media after his drunken post-GCSE celebrations in Leicester Square.

Seemingly on the verge of tears, Cherie wheeled out an arsenal of doe-eyed glances to camera and references to her vulnerability which seasoned British scandal-lovers might just have seen before.

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