Blair donation 'no-win situation': British veterans' charity
A veterans' charity benefiting from sales of former British prime minister Tony Blair's memoirs said Saturday that accepting the donation was not an endorsement of his policies.
Chris Simpkins, director-general of the Royal British Legion, told The Times newspaper they were in "almost a no-win situation" over their largest-ever gift.
"A Journey" will be published on September 1 and, as Blair's first personal account of his 10 years in power from 1997 -- in which he led Britain to war in Iraq and Afghanistan -- it is expected to become a best-seller.
Reports say he has already received a 4.6-million-pound (5.6-million-euro, 7.2-million-dollar) advance.
Blair's donation will go towards the 12-million-pound cost of building a new rehabilitation centre for wounded soldiers.
Acknowledging that some relatives of the war dead had been angered by the donation, Simpkins said it was "almost a no-win situation".
"To have rejected it, I think, was likely to have stimulated equally adverse publicity," he said.
Simpkins said accepting the donation was "absolutely not" an endorsement of Blair's actions in office.
"We don't take a view on the political decisions which put our people in harm's way," he said.
"What drives us in accepting this donation -- aware obviously of the concerns which widows and the families of those who have been seriously wounded, indeed the wounded themselves might have -- is, well, given that we need to support that group of people, wouldn't it be a bit churlish of us to look a gift horse in the mouth?"
Simpkins said the donation came "without any strings attached and none sought". The centre will not carry Blair's name and there is no commitment for him to open it, he added.
Blair's spokesman said Monday that the former premier had decided on quitting power in 2007 to donate the proceeds of his memoirs to an armed forces charity to mark their "enormous sacrifice".
Simpkins said Blair's office approached them on August 9. The offer was accepted on August 12 and made public Monday.
© 2010 AFP