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Blagojevich Drops Request To Travel To U.K.

Rod Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich (credit: John Gress/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has dropped his request to travel to England for a speaking engagement before his retrial next month.

Blagojevich’s attorneys had asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel last week to allow their client to leave the country in order to speak at the Oxford Union next week.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports

The Oxford Union is a debating society founded at Oxford University in 1823, and prides itself as a “forum for debate and discussion of controversial issues.”

But Tuesday morning, defense attorneys withdrew their request and a hearing to discuss the issue later in the day was cancelled.

Blagojevich lawyer Sheldon Sorosky said the trip — which would have required Zagel’s approval — would have had to be next week and that Blagojevich decided he wouldn’t be ready to make the trip by then.

“Even if the judge had allowed him to go, he couldn’t get it all together,” Sorosky said. “He didn’t even know if his passport was expired.”

Oxford had offered to pay for Blagojevich’s airfare and meals.

Sorosky said the trip would have been a quick one — there and back.

“It’s not like he could have gone to London for two days,” Sorosky said. “We got the feeling it was like the guy who gets out of jail to go to the dentist downtown — you go, you come back.”

Before his first trial, Blagojevich had sought to travel to Costa Rica to appear on the reality TV show “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here,” but Zagel would not allow him to leave the country.

Instead, Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, took his place on the show.

Blagojevich is scheduled for a retrial on federal corruption charges beginning April 20.

His first trial ended in a hung jury on 23 of the 24 counts against him, although he was convicted of lying to the FBI. Prosecutors have since dropped three other charges against him in an effort to simplify their case.

(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)