Chef Jamie Oliver and Dame Joan Bakewell in Twitter row over Chalk Farm Library
Veteran broadcaster Joan Bakewell is involved in a war of words with Primrose Hill chef Jamie Oliver over financial backing for his embattled local library.
Chalk Farm Library patron Ms Bakewell used social networking site Twitter to reveal the celebrity chef has failed to offer cash to support to the library.
Ms Bakewell tweeted to her 4,890 followers: “Jamie Oliver’s children use Chalk Farm Library. He won’t join the appeal to save it. Shame!”
But the people’s chef defended himself, saying his children had not used the library for many years.
“I have offered total support!! your incorrect they [campaigners] have been v rude and only want cash disgraceful,” he tweeted to his 1,900,000 followers.
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A spokesman for Mr Oliver, judged to be worth �106million in the 2011 Sunday Times Rich List, said he had offered signed books and free dinners as auction prizes, which campaigners had so far refused.
Writer and journalist Ms Bakewell later told the Ham&High she regretted bullying the Naked Chef over the internet.
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But she claimed it was now or never for the library in Primrose Hill after the community last week received backing from Camden Council to take over the lease and run the library, which will be renamed Primrose Hill Community Library.
Campaigners have raised more than �520,000 in pledges from local residents to support the library, including Ms Bakewell and author Alan Bennett, towards a target of �1.2million.
Ms Bakewell told the Ham&High: “I wrote to him twice and hadn’t heard anything and then heard he wasn’t going to contribute and I thought that was very odd.
“I though it might have touched his heart because he believes in community so I Tweeted him.
“He is keen to help, but we were not discussing money. I bullied him a bit and I regret that because I admire him very much, but it’s my job to get the money.
“That’s why we have to continue and not lose heart, but we have lost a little strength that’s hence why I’m on the job.”
She added: “In a sense Jamie lives in a lovely house, these houses cost a lot around here because of the amenities, but the library is a community amenity as well and I was trying to tap into his Primrose Hill loyalty.
“I don’t normally have the nerve to ask, I hate asking for money, it does not comes easily.
“I’m not very good at it, but I don’t want to pass up the opportunity. If it falls flat I shall feel wretched so that’s what is making me perhaps a little rash.”
A spokesperson for Jamie Oliver said: “It is completely wrong to suggest he doesn’t want to help and Joan has acknowledged that.
‘‘The Olivers have not used the library for many years but are very happy to help with auction prizes.”