LONDON — The Associated Press
Published on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010 11:00AM EDT
Last updated on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010 11:01AM EDT
Tony Blair, who took Britain to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, is donating millions in earnings from his forthcoming memoir to a charity for injured troops.
The Royal British Legion said Monday that the former prime minister has agreed to give all proceeds from A Journey to its Battle Back Challenge Center. The center opens in 2012 and will provide state of the art sports facilities and rehabilitation services for seriously wounded personnel.
Publisher Random House paid an estimated $7.5 million (U.S.) for Blair’s personal account of his time in power, due to be published next month.
Blair spokesman Matthew Doyle said Monday that Blair’s donation includes the advance and all royalties.
Chris Simpkins, director-general of the Royal British Legion, said the organization “is delighted to accept this very generous donation.”
Blair, 57, stepped down in June 2007 after a decade that included a historic peace accord in Northern Ireland, a deeply unpopular war in Iraq and a continuing conflict in Afghanistan.
He remains a controversial figure. Families of some of the hundreds of British troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have criticized Blair for earning millions from the book and public speaking since leaving office.
Anti-war activists say they will protest during Blair’s book signing at a large bookstore in central London on Sept. 8, and security will be tight. Customers have been told they cannot take their mobile phones into the venue and no one is allowed to take photographs of Blair.
Blair has been at the center of numerous books, notably The Blair Years, by former press secretary Alastair Campbell, and the recently published memoir The Third Man, by Labour Party insider Peter Mandelson.
He was also the inspiration for the former prime minister dogged by allegations of war crimes in Robert Harris’s thriller The Ghost, which was turned into a film by Roman Polanski.