Blair postpones book party at Tate Modern

LONDON Wed Sep 8, 2010 11:32am BST

1 of 2. A woman poses for photographers with a signed copy of the memoirs of former Prime Minister Tony Blair outside Eason bookstore in Dublin, Ireland September 4, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/David Moir

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LONDON (Reuters) - Former premier Tony Blair has postponed a party at the Tate Modern art gallery celebrating the launch of his autobiography because of threats from protesters, his office said on Wednesday.

Anti-war demonstrators had planned to disrupt the reception on Wednesday evening and a group of celebrated artists including Tracey Emin and Vivienne Westwood had called on the gallery to cancel the "disgraceful" event.

Blair has also been forced to cancel a signing session for "A Journey" at a bookstore in central London.

"It has been postponed for the same reason as the book signing," a spokesman for Blair said.

"We don't want to put our guests through the unpleasant consequences of the actions of demonstrators."

At the weekend, protestors hurled eggs and shoes at the former prime minister during a promotional event in Dublin.

Blair, prime minister for Labour between 1997 and 2007, led Britain into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, the occupation of Iraq by Western coalition forces was widely opposed and contributed to a dive in Blair's popularity.

Emin, Westwood and musician Brian Eno, were among figures from the arts world who wrote a letter to the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday to voice their concern about the Tate Modern event.

"It is disgraceful that the Tate is being used for this purpose," they said.

(Reporting by Matt Falloon; Editing by Steve Addison)

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