London: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair`s
security is costing the British taxpayer a whopping 250,000
pounds annually, nearly twice the amount incurred to protect
his successor Gordon Brown while he was still in office, a
media report said on Sunday.
Blair now spends much of his time abroad, either in his
international diplomatic role as a UN Middle East envoy, on
business dealings or on holiday.
Whenever he goes, a team of up to five personal
bodyguards from the Metropolitan SO1 Specialist Protection
unit travel with him. 57-year-old Blair can earn up to 80,000
pounds an hour for a speaking engagement.
The claims for protection for Blair were 250,000 pounds
a year, almost twice the 135,000 pounds submitted for
protection of Brown during his last year in office, The Mail
Claims of more than 1,200 pounds a night for
accommodation at some of the world`s finest hotels, as well as
for limousine hire and thousands of pounds in cash for
overseas trips without receipts, it said.
For example, during a two week break to Borneo last
summer, officers ran up a total bill of more than 22,000
pounds. Soon after, a three-man police team accompanied Blair
and his wife for a week long visit to a luxury health retreat
in Bali, the report said.
Other expenses included 3,000 pounds cash for a trip to
Sierra Leone, for which no receipts were obtained.
Reacting to the report, Conservative MP Richard Bacon,
a member of the Commons public accounts committee called on
Blair to make a contribution from his "considerable earnings"
towards the cost of his security.
Meanwhile, total spending on Royal and diplomatic
protection has reached more than 1.5 million pounds so far
this year, the newspaper said.
A spokesman for the Home Office, which oversees the
funding of the diplomatic and Royal protection squads, would
not discuss their budgets, The Telegraph said.