The day I tried (and failed) to arrest Tony Blair for war crimes: Barman attempts to detain former PM at trendy Shoreditch restaurant

 

One is an internationally renowned statesman; the other was a barman working at one of east London’s hippest restaurants. But it was the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who came out on top in an unusual clash on Friday. He managed to use his years of verbal dexterity – some would put it less politely – to talk himself out of what could have been a humiliating situation: a citizen’s arrest.

Mr Blair is followed to almost every public engagement by protesters who blame him for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the Iraq war and its aftermath.

The website arrestblair.org offers a bounty of about £2,150, or about a quarter of their total funds to anyone who can “arrest” him for crimes against peace. So when Twiggy Garcia saw his chance on Friday night, he leapt into action.

The former Labour leader was enjoying an intimate meal with family and friends at the Tramshed restaurant in trendy Shoreditch, where Mr Garcia was working. The venue, owned by the chef and Independent columnist Mark Hix, serves only two main courses – chicken and steak – and has artworks by Damien Hirst on the wall.

Mr Garcia told Vice: “He [Blair] was sitting at the head of a table upstairs with about eight other people eating dinner. I think he was out with his family and a few friends. I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said: “Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge’.”

Twiggy Garcia is the fifth person to have tried to arrest Tony Blair Mr Blair responded with a typical “Teflon Tony” performance, trying to engage the barman in a civilised debate about Syria. Mr Garcia said the former premier “kept changing the subject and talking about Syria” and told him: “I think you should be more concerned about Syria.”

Mr Garcia said: “I didn’t expect him to start debating with me. I think he actually believed the lies that were coming out of his mouth.”

But the barman’s time was running out. “One of his sons got up and went to get the plain-clothes security from downstairs. I decided to get out of there sharpish... I quit my job there and then.”

Article continues beneath gallery

Mr Garcia said he had fantasised for years about “arresting” Mr Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy. It was not a plan, he claimed, but “something I have wanted to do for a few years”.

“I had been waiting for the opportunity after seeing the website arrestblair.org and it just so happened we were in the same place at the same time,” he said. “I believe Blair is responsible for the mass murder of Iraqi civilians after taking our country into an illegal war.”

Mr Garcia added that his “heart rate increased” when he discovered Mr Blair’s “eerie presence” in the building and that he feared the politician’s security team might have overheard him asking a colleague: “Should I citizen’s arrest him?”

A spokesman for the former Prime Minister told The Independent: “There is nothing to report here apart from the fact that Mr Blair did offer to discuss the issue – that offer was declined and the individual walked off. Nothing else happened. Everyone is fine and they had a great time.”

Mr Garcia is the fifth person to have tried to arrest Mr Blair. He said: “It will keep people from forgetting he is a war criminal. I hope one day he faces his charges in The Hague. People seem to think those laws only apply to Nazis and African warlords.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'