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Tony Blair's security costs British taxpayers 250,000 pounds

world Updated: Jul 04, 2010 20:16 IST

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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 reported.

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.