The men’s magazine incurred a wave of bemused wrath when the man responsible for catapulting Britain into the 2003 Iraq war with the US – despite protests from millions – could possibly be the recipient of such an accolade.
But tweets of outrage were nothing compared to that which the International charity received from their own staff after they awarded Blair at an event in New York attended by Ben Affleck and Lassie (yes, the dog) earlier this month.
In an internal letter signed by almost 200 members of staff, they branded the award “morally reprehensible” and a “betrayal” and called for it to be withdrawn.
They wrote that they felt it also endangered the charity’s “credibility globally” and demanded an investigation into their decision-making process.
“We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values,” the Guardian quotes it as reading.
“Management staff in the region were not communicated with nor consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision.”
A spokesperson from STC said that in a worldwide organisation of “thousands”, many of their staff harboured “strong views” on a variety of subjects. They added that the charity respects the “diversity of views”.
However, the award also sparked speculation over the charity’s apparent independence, in light of its links to the former British Prime Minister.
Tony Blair: A career of controversies
Tony Blair: A career of controversies
1/11 The Tony Blair 'selfie'.. A journalist takes a picture of Kennard Phillips 'Photo Op', depicting Prime Minister Tony Blair taking a 'selfie' in front of an explosion in Iraq, during a press viewing of the exhibition Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War
2/11 Protesters pictured outside the QEII Conference centre in London in 2011 as former British PM Tony Blair give his evidence in the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry
3/11 David Lawley-Wakelin, who disrupted Tony Blair’s testimony at the Leveson Inquiry by bursting into the court
4/11 Blair giving evidence
5/11 Tony Blair visiting troops in Iraq in 2007
6/11 Blair meeting with troops in Basra, Iraq in 2003
7/11 Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks to British soldiers at Divisional Headquaters in Basra, May 2007
8/11 British Prime Minister Tony Blair eats dinner with British troops in Basra, Iraq, 21 December, 2004
9/11 Syrian president Bashar El Assad during his official visit to the United Kingdom in 2002. Mr Blair tried to engage Mr Garcia in a conversation about Syria. The former Prime Minister made clear he was very much in favour of military intervention last summer.
10/11 Syrian president Bashar El Assad and wife Asma during their official visit to the United Kingdom in 2002. Mr Blair tried to engage Mr Garcia in a conversation about Syria
11/11 Former Prime Minister Tony Blair's signature adorns a program he signed for an Iraq veteran during a reception at the Guildhall in London following the service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral honouring UK military and civilian personnel who served in Iraq
Justin Forsyth, the UK chief executive of STC, used to be a special advisor to Blair, while Jonathan Powell, who is also on the STC board, was his former chief of staff.
On why they had given the ‘Global Legacy’ award to Blair, they cited two G8 summits hosted by Blair during his time in office which focused on debt relief for poor countries, including the #MakePovertyHistory campaign.
“From the beginning of humankind there has been brutality, conflict, intrigue, the destructive obsession with a narrow self-interest,” Blair said during his acceptance speech.
“But throughout all human history, never has been extinguished that relentless, unquenchable desire to do good. To act not only in self-interest and sometimes to even to act in defiance of it.”
As well as the internal letter, Blair’s charity recognition also catalysed an online petition signed by more than 81,000 people calling for the award to be withdrawn because he had caused “the deaths of countless children in the Middle East”.
A spokesperson for STC is yet to respond to The Independent’s request for comment.Reuse content