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.”

News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
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

Langley James : IT Support; Residential Agency; Mayfair; up to £30k

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Residential Agency; May...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Citifocus Ltd: ACA - Financial Reporting

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Chartered accountant (ACA or CPA), must be...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?