The charity which came under fire for presenting former Prime Minister Tony Blair with a global legacy award has apologized for upsetting staff and supporters.
Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said he was “very sorry” to staff and members of the public who were offended by the decision, saying the issue was an “unnecessary distraction.”
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Forsyth, a former aide to Blair, told the BBC’s Today program: “I know that many of our supporters and volunteers were very upset and our staff, several of our staff too, and I’m very sorry for that.”
He said it was “wrong” to have given the former PM the award for his global work, rather than his action in Africa specifically.
The apology follows a widespread backlash against the decision, with an online petition garnering over 100,000 signatures. The petition called for the award to be rescinded, with over 500 staff at Save the Children backing that request.
Protesters were outraged that the charity had seemingly overlooked Blair’s decision to invade Iraq as part of the US-led offensive in 2003, which was responsible for the killing of thousands of civilians.
Forsyth said the decision to hand Blair the award was made by the charity’s “sister organization” in America, where Blair did not have as controversial a reputation.
Read More: Save The Children Apologizes For Handing Tony Blair Legacy Award