updated 10/17/2007 8:16:45 PM ET 2007-10-18T00:16:45

Britain spent more than $9,500 on a surprise 50th birthday party for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2004, according to the Foreign Office.

Britain’s ambassador to the United States, David Manning, hosted the event at his home in Washington, attended by more than 100 guests, including President George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura.

Labour Party lawmaker Harry Cohen demanded that Britain’s Foreign Office reveal the cost of the party following publication of a highly critical article about Rice in the center-left British magazine the New Statesman. The Foreign Office divulged the cost in a written reply released Tuesday.

The magazine reported that Rice appeared at the residence wearing slacks and a suede jacket — only to be surprised by 111 guests.

It said the ambassador had planned for everything, even whisking Rice away so she could slip into a scarlet gown specially ordered for the occasion from her favorite designer, Oscar de la Renta. The ambassador had also arranged for Rice’s hairdresser to be on hand and for the pianist Van Cliburn to play the national anthem as Rice returned — wearing the new gown with freshly styled hair, the article said.

Kim Howells, a junior Foreign Office minister, told the legislator in the written reply that “the dinner in question was held in honor of U.S. Secretary of State Rice and attended by the president, first lady and other senior figures. There were 111 guests and the cost was $9,512.05.”

That amount does not include the dress because the British Embassy did not pay for it, a Foreign Office spokesman said. He said he did not know who bought it.

The spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, said the Foreign Office had no further details, and he could not say whether the New Statesman account was accurate.

The article said the British had aimed to woo Rice because of her close relationship with Bush, but that they later believed former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney held more influence over the president.

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