Tony Blair is reportedly costing the taxpayer millions of pounds a year in police protection – as well as allegedly blurring the line between his work as a Middle East peace envoy and his business interests.
Blair requires as many as 12 police protection officers following his role as prime minister and his advocacy of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – a Daily Telegraph investigation published on Friday claims.
Documents seen by the Telegraph allegedly show that Blair sometimes visits as many as five countries a week – at a potential cost of between £14,000 and £16,000 to the public purse. The paper reports that each protection officer was likely to be earning at least £56,000 – but could earn more than £70,000 given the overtime they accumulate on foreign trips.
In 2010 the Mail on Sunday reported that the cost of Blair’s diplomatic protection was £250,000 a year – double the cost for Gordon Brown. The Home Office oversees the cost of police protection for former prime ministers – and there have previously been Tory calls for Blair to make a larger contribution towards the cost of his.
The Telegraph investigation suggests that when he flies by private jet Blair does not ask the taxpayer to foot the bill – but if he is abroad as many as eight police protection officers accompany him.
He has repeatedly defended his luxury globe-trotting – arguing that his lifestyle is no more lavish than that of other diplomats.