Tony Blair gives book profits to injured troops centre
Tony Blair is donating all the profits from his forthcoming memoirs to a new sports centre for injured troops, it was disclosed today.
The former prime minister is handing over the reported £4.6 million advance he received for the book, A Journey, as well as any royalties.
A spokesman for Mr Blair insisted he had always intended to give the proceeds to charity to recognise the "courage and sacrifice" of the Armed Forces.
But anti-war activists accused the ex-premier of trying to "buy forgiveness" for bloody campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The money - which represents a significant chunk of Mr Blair's estimated £15 million-plus fortune - will go towards the Royal British Legion's Battle Back Challenge Centre, which is due to open in summer 2012.
The £12 million complex will provide accommodation and a state-of-the-art gym and training facility for injured service personnel.
A statement announcing the gift on the ex-prime minister's website said: "Tony Blair decided on leaving office that he would donate the proceeds of his memoirs to a charity for the Armed Forces as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice they make for the security of our people and the world.
"The Royal British Legion is just such a cause.
"In making this decision, Tony Blair recognises the courage and sacrifice the Armed Forces demonstrate day in, day out.
"As prime minister he witnessed that for himself in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Kosovo. This is his way of honouring their courage and sacrifice.
"We have been consulting with a number of people and organisations to decide the best support he can give.
"There is one project consistently highlighted - The Royal British Legion's Battle Back Challenge Centre."
The director-general of the Royal British Legion, Chris Simpkins, said the organisation was "delighted to accept this very generous donation".
"The culture of the centre will very much be about what users of the service can do rather than what they can't, but some of the servicemen and women are likely to need the Legion's support for the rest of their lives," he said.
"Mr Blair's generosity is much appreciated and will help us to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of hundreds of injured personnel."
It is understood the money is being given with "no strings".
But the Stop the War Coalition said: "Tony Blair's decision to give the money made from his memoirs to the British Legion is welcome if it means that some of those who have suffered as a direct consequence of his criminal wars will benefit.
"But no proportion of his massive and ill-gotten fortune can buy him innocence or forgiveness.
"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the pointless death of hundreds of British soldiers and hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians.
"No amount of money will wash their blood from his hands."
Mr Blair's long-awaited memoirs are due to be published on September 1.
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