Blair opens up about book signings on the purple sofa

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Indy Politics

He survived interrogations at the hands of heavyweight journalists relatively unscathed, but in the end it was the hail of shoes and eggs which greeted Tony Blair at the first public signing of his memoirs which persuaded him to cut short his publicity tour.

The former Prime Minister announced yesterday that he was scrapping plans to stage a second signing of his book A Journey, which had been due to take place in central London on Wednesday.

Mr Blair said he did not want to subject the police or the public to the "inevitable hassle" of his appearance at the flagship Waterstone's where copies of his book have been flying out of the door since it was published last week. He cited fears that groups including the British National Party might turn up to protest alongside anti-war activists, who continue to shadow him wherever he goes.

Mr Blair said he would provide signed copies to the store for those who had planned to attend. "I know the Metropolitan Police would, as ever, have done a superb job in managing any disruption but I do not wish to impose an extra strain on police resources, simply for a book signing. I'm really sorry for those – as ever the majority – who would have come to have their books signed by me in person. I hope they understand," he said.

Waterstone's confirmed that the scheduled book signing had been cancelled "according to the wishes of the author". Managing director Dominic Myers said: "It is a matter of regret that because of the likely actions of a minority, our customers are now not able to meet a three-times elected prime minister of the United Kingdom, whose book has become our fastest-selling autobiography ever."

Lindsey German, convener of the Stop the War Coalition, claimed that Mr Blair was "too frightened" to appear and that his decision to cancel was a victory for campaigners.