Page last updated at 19:59 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Poppy billboard apology accepted

Poster in Gillingham, Kent
A poster in Gillingham was defaced

An apology over anti-war slogans added to Poppy Appeal posters has been accepted by the Royal British Legion.

An e-mail was sent from someone saying he or she had changed billboards in Kent to call for Tony Blair to be prosecuted over his war record.

The poster showed war widow Hester Wright, 22, and her son Josh, six, holding a portrait of her late husband.

The slogan "For their sake, wear a poppy" had been replaced with, "For their sake, prosecute Blair".

The Royal British Legion's annual appeal adverts are emphasising their support for personnel who served in Afghanistan.

The anonymous writer said he or she had "modified" the poster at Gillingham railway station and another "not far away".

I am sorry if anyone felt misled into thinking the legion was taking a position on the rights or wrongs of current military incursions
Anonymous writer

"There was no intent to dishonour anyone (Blair excluded) and I meant no disrespect to either the Royal British Legion and its supporters, nor to the family of Damian Wright," the e-mail said.

The writer said he or she had lobbied their MP and protested outside Downing Street about the wars but had "lost all faith in the political system".

"Those who dissent find themselves labelled as 'domestic extremists' and threatened with police violence and terror laws," the e-mail continued.

The writer was "horrified" at suggestions Mr Blair could become EU president and was inspired by seeing other posters marked with the words "For Their Sake, Bring 'Em Home".

Leave 'unmolested'

The e-mailer said: "I am sorry if anyone felt misled into thinking the legion was taking a position on the rights or wrongs of current military incursions.

"I support the work of the legion, although I think it's tragic that veterans and their families have to rely on charity, rather than receive the support they deserve from the government so quick to spend money sending our troops to war."

Robert Lee, the charity's head of media and campaigns, replied saying: "Thank you for explaining your rationale, but may I ask that you would next time leave our posters unmolested at this one time of the year when we raise much-needed funds for their support?"

He added: "Your apology is accepted."

Mrs Wright, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, became one of the public faces of the Poppy Appeal after her husband, Damian Wright, died in a roadside explosion in Afghanistan in 2007, aged 23.

The appeal aims to raise £31m.



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