Cherie Blair played a crucial role in securing the 2012 Olympics for Britain at the expense of rivals France by cornering French President Jacques Chirac "like a banshee," a new book claims.
Sebastian Coe has revealed in his new memoir, 'Running My Life', that Blair went for Chirac at a party full of Olympic officials in 2005 after he made a disparaging remark about British cuisine.
Such was the intensity of the attack that Chirac fled the party leaving Coe free to woo officials on the eve of the crucial vote to see who would host the Games.
Chirac had previously mocked British food to President Putin of Russia and Gerhard Schröder, the then-German Chancellor saying: "You can’t trust people who cook as badly as that. After Finland, it’s the country with the worst food."
The comments were picked up by a press officer who ensured that it became a major story in the UK media.
Coe writes: "I spotted Cherie heading like a heat-seeking missile towards the French contingent. Above the hubbub her voice rang loud and clear. ‘I gather you’ve been saying rude things about our food’, she said, at a volume that would have done justice to a packed courtroom. Her husband, who could hear as well as I could, had assiduously turned away."
Mr Chirac is reported to have advised her not to "believe every-zing you read", to which Mrs Blair replied: "I didn’t read it. I saw it on television."
Tony Blair also witnessed the confrontation and said: "The thing about my wife is that when she says something, she really means it."
Coe also tells of the moment when London won the Games. He said: "My first thought was, ‘have I heard this correctly?
"Everybody was jumping around, hugging each other. I will never forget the expression on the faces of the IOC members looking down on us from the stage.
"Some of them looked utterly shell-shocked."
London won the vote 54-50, with many observers pointing out the potentially pivotal votes that two slandered Finnish delegates had.