We pay an estimated £50m a year to protect VIPs, including royalty, diplomats and politicians - one of whom is Tony Blair. His Metropolitan Police protection squad ran up a £250,000 expenses bill over the past year as they provided round the clock protection on business trips and private holidays across the world.
Home Office sources said a Government review of funding arrangements will question whether former politicians should pay towards their own bodyguards, particularly for business or private trips. As well as protecting Mr Blair while he works as an international envoy to the Middle East, the officers also accompany him on holidays when officers ran up a bill of more than £20,000 on a two-week break Mr Blair took in Borneo. It means that the expenses bill for Mr Blair's officers was far higher than the £135,000 claimed by officers protecting Mr Brown during his last year as prime minister.
John Pilger in the New Statesman, states Tony Blair must be prosecuted and not indulged like Peter Mandelson. Both have produced self-serving memoirs for which they have been paid fortunes; Blair's, which has earned him a £4.6m advance, will appear next month. Will we be paying for protection at his book signings?
Pilger is obviously no fan of Blair and I can understand why. The Iraq inquiry has repeatedly exposed his self-centred style of government and his determination to be the bosom buddy of the US. He was not without his collaborators though and most of his cabinet have protected him. That shows his power within the labour party which will have a certain toxicity about it for many years to come.
He is described by Pilger as 'Britain's Kissinger, who plans his travel outside the US with the care of a fugitive'. And Pilger goes further:
Two recent events add weight to this. On 15 June, the International Criminal Court made the landmark decision to add aggression to its list of war crimes that can be prosecuted. It defines this as a "crime committed by a political or military leader which by its character, gravity and scale constituted a manifest violation of the [United Nations] Charter". International lawyers described this as a "giant leap". Britain is a signatory to the Rome statute that created the court and is bound by its decisions.
On 21 July, Nick Clegg, standing at the Commons despatch box, declared the invasion of Iraq illegal. For all the later "clarification" that he was speaking personally, the Deputy Prime Minister had made "a statement that the international court would be interested in", said Philippe Sands, professor of international law at University College London.
We should be paying protection for Mr Blair at only one of his UK homes and when he is in the middle east undertaking his duty as envoy. Mr Blair should take responsibility for his other activities.
Much as I would like to see him brought to an honest account for his actions regarding the Iraq war, I think it's too late and he has too many influential friends in the US.