Proceeds of Blair book set for troop charity

From the Guardian

MATTHEW TAYLOR, in London

TONY BLAIR, who led the UK into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to donate the proceeds from his forthcoming memoir to the Royal British Legion.

A spokesman for the former prime minister, who is understood to have already received a £4.6 million (€5.6 million) advance for A Journey , said he would hand over all the money he makes, including the advance, “as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice [the armed forces] make for the security of our people and the world”.

Mr Blair’s spokesman added: “In making this decision, Tony Blair recognises the courage and sacrifice the armed forces demonstrate day in, day out. As prime minister he witnessed that for himself in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Kosovo. This is his way of honouring their courage and sacrifice.”

The book is expected to generate huge interest when it goes on sale on September 1st. Translation rights have been sold in 14 territories.

“The proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back challenge centre, a project that will provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation services for seriously injured troops returning from the frontline,” the spokesman said.

“We have been consulting with a number of people and organisations to decide the best support he can give. [This] is one project consistently highlighted.”

It is understood that negotiations about the donation have been going on for several months.

Chris Simpkins, the charity’s director general, said he was delighted to accept “this very generous” offer, which he said would help the organisation to hit its £12 million fundraising target.

Mr Blair’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 prompted huge anti-war protests.

Anti-war activists who are preparing to protest next month in London at a planned appearance by Mr Blair to sign copies of his book said his decision to give the money to the British Legion proved that he had a “guilty conscience”.

A spokesman for the Stop The War Coalition said: “Tony Blair’s decision to give the money made from his memoirs to the British Legion is welcome if it means that some of those who have suffered as a direct consequence of his criminal wars will benefit.

“But no proportion of Tony Blair’s massive and ill-gotten fortune can buy him innocence or forgiveness. He took this country to war on a series of lies against the best legal advice and in defiance of majority opinion.” – (Guardian service)