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Geri Halliwell's Fee Questioned

According to Reuters, Britain's Ministry of Defense is refusing to say how much former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell was paid to entertain British troops on exercise in Oman last month amid a dispute over whether she should have performed for free.

Bernard Jenkin, defense spokesman for Britain's opposition Conservative Party, told the Observer newspaper that his office was contacted by army personnel complaining that a large proportion of the army's welfare budget went to the shows.

"Wealthy performers can and should perform for free," Jenkin said. "Taxpayers should not be splashing out large sums of money unnecessarily. The government should tell us how much money they spent on these events, and then we can assess whether it's value for money."

Dame Vera Lynn, forces sweetheart in World War Two, told the Observer that she never charged for her wartime concerts.

"If it's true that Geri Halliwell charged a fee, then it's a very poor show. If she can't give up her time free for the troops who are there to defend her and her way of life that is very sad," Dame Vera said.

"I never charged a penny and if ever I was given any money I gave it to my pianist."

A spokesman for Geri Halliwell, Jonathan Hackford, told the Observer that she hadn't been paid. "Geri actually ended up out of pocket after having to personally pay stage crew and several dancers who flew in from Italy," he said.

"It's a very brave thing for Geri to do. The only thing she asked for was some cold drinks after the show which doesn't seem so outrageous considering the show was in the middle of the desert," Hackford said.

Defense minister Adam Ingram refused to disclose the amount that Halliwell had been paid when asked to do so by Jenkin, saying that the information was "commercially confidential"