Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

UK Politics

Protests 'frightening' for book party guests, says Tony Blair

Tony Blair called off a party tonight to mark the launch of his new book, saying it would be "frightening" for his friends to have to walk past anti-war protesters.

Guests invited to the event, at the Tate Modern gallery in Central London, were told that it had been postponed, a spokeswoman for the book's publishers Random House said.

Campaigners against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had planned to demonstrate outside Tate Modern and criticised the gallery for allowing the party to be held there.

Mr Blair told ITV1's This Morning: "It is sad in a way because you should have the right to sign books or see your friends if you want to.

"But it was going to cause so much hassle. The people at the party tonight are friends - and some of them are not political at all.

"I don't mind going through protesters - I have lived with that all my political life. But for other people it can be a bit unpleasant and frightening."

The party would go ahead at some stage as a thank you to the people who had helped produce the memoir, he said.

It is the second time the former prime minister has called off an event after he cancelled a signing session of his memoir, due to be held at the Waterstone's book store in London's Piccadilly today.

After cancelling the book signing the ex-premier said he did not want to subject the public to the "inevitable hassle" protests would cause or use up police resources keeping order at the event.

Lindsey German, convener of the Stop The War Coalition, who had planned to protest outside the Tate Modern gallery, said it was a "big victory" for the anti-war movement.

"Tony Blair is running scared of the peaceful, democratic protests which will follow him wherever he goes. A recent poll showed that close to 50% of the British public believes that Mr Blair lied to parliament and the country to take Britain into an illegal war.

"The anti-war movement is determined that one day he will be brought to account for his war crimes in Iraq.

"Those who oppose such protests would deny the rights of the anti war majority to make their feelings known and would ignore the terrible suffering of hundreds of thousands of victims of Mr Blair's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Eggs and shoes were hurled by protesters and one attempted to make a citizen's arrest when Mr Blair signed copies of the book, A Journey, in Dublin last weekend.

The book is the biggest-selling title across the UK, with total sales of around 100,000.