Sep 9, 2010

Tony Blair cancels book launch party due to protests

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair canceled a launch party for his new book in London Wednesday because of planned protests, his spokesman said.

It's his second London cancellation this week.

Blair "did not want to put guests through the unpleasant consequences of the actions of demonstrators of what should have been an enjoyable evening for friends and family," the spokesman said, declining to be named in keeping with British tradition.

"The party has been postponed indefinitely, (and) will be held sometime in the future. Guests were informed yesterday evening," the spokesman said in a statement.

Blair canceled a central London book-signing event for his new autobiography "A Journey" over concerns of the "inevitable hassle" that will be caused by protesters, his office said in a statement Monday.

Blair's decision came after police made some arrests Saturday in Dublin, Ireland, where he was due for another signing event for his book.

A crowd of people, some of them anti-war demonstrators, had gathered outside the shop to protest Blair's role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there were unconfirmed reports of eggs and shoes being thrown at Blair.

"I very much enjoyed meeting my readers in Dublin and was looking forward to doing the same in London," Blair said in the statement Monday.

"However, I have decided not to go ahead with the signing as I don't want the public to be inconvenienced by the inevitable hassle caused by protesters.

"I'm really sorry for those -- as ever the majority -- who would have come to have their books signed by me in person," he said. "I hope they understand."

Both Blair and the bookseller, Waterstone's, said the former British leader would sign a limited number of books in advance that the Piccadilly branch will sell on Thursday.

Blair's book describes his time in office, including his decision to go to war in Iraq. All proceeds from the book are going to the Royal British Legion, Blair has said.

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