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Taxpayers foot £273,000 bill to protect Tony Blair at Iraq inquiry

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Taxpayers foot £273,000 bill to protect Tony Blair at Iraq inquiry

Post  Indigo on Fri 19 Mar - 7:46


Police ran up a bill of £273,000 to protect former prime minister Tony Blair as he attended the inquiry into the Iraq War, it was revealed today. Hundreds of officers were stationed outside the inquiry as Mr Blair faced a furious backlash from protesters. The Metropolitan Police said the total cost of enforcing a ring of steel around the Westminster conference centre was £273,000 and could yet run higher.

The bill was made up of £178,000 "opportunity costs", money the Met would have spent anyway meeting the wages of officers usually assigned to other duties. The London force rang up a further £61,000 in overtime and £34,000 in other costs, including air support, barriers, transport, road signs and other equipment.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said 657 police officer shifts and 28 police staff shifts were worked during the operation. She said: "The cost of policing the inquiry on days other than when Tony Blair gave evidence has not been specifically recorded. "Any additional cost to the Met is minimal because the area around the QE2 Conference Centre forms part of the normal policing of the Government Security Zone put in place to protect the seat of government.

"The estimated total cost of policing Tony Blair's attendance at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry and associated events is £273,000." Mr Blair provoked outrage by slipping into the conference centre at 7.15am before the vast majority of protesters arrived and leaving by a side entrance.

Hundreds of people later gathered outside the conference centre to chant anti-Blair slogans and call for his arrest for war crimes. During his six-hour testimony, the former prime minister mounted a vigorous defence of the invasion and insisted he had no regrets over removing Saddam Hussein. And Mr Blair denied he took the country to war on the basis of a "lie" over the dictator's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

At the end of his session one member of the audience shouted: "What, no regrets? Come on" while others heckled "You are a liar", "And a murderer."

Lindsey German, convener of the Stop The War Coalition, who joined protesters on the day, said the cost is "unbelievable". She said: "It is unbelievable that so much money was spent defending a war criminal. It would have been far cheaper to arrest him, not protect him.

"This information has come on a day when universities are having their budgets slashed and we learn that Blair has been paid by a South Korean oil company with interests in Iraq."

Andrew Bergin, another official of the anti-war group, added: "It is a disgraceful waste of public funds.
"This money should have been spent in the public sector rather than defending someone who should really be facing the courts over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people who have died in Iraq."

* The cost of the January 29 police operation was revealed in a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
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Nick Ferrari is talking about this on LBC as we speak....


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Re: Taxpayers foot £273,000 bill to protect Tony Blair at Iraq inquiry

Post  Indigo on Fri 19 Mar - 7:50

Oh my God. Just look at his smug evil face.



Tony Blair waged an extraordinary two-year battle to keep secret a lucrative deal with a multinational oil giant which has extensive interests in Iraq.

The former Prime Minister tried to keep the public in the dark over his dealings with South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation.

Mr Blair - who has made at least £20million since leaving Downing Street in June 2007 - also went to great efforts to keep hidden a £1million deal advising the ruling royal family in Iraq's neighbour Kuwait.

In an unprecedented move, he persuaded the committee which vets the jobs of former ministers to keep details of both deals from the public for 20 months, claiming it was commercially sensitive. The deals emerged yesterday when the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments finally lost patience with Mr Blair and decided to ignore his objections and publish the details.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1259030/Tony-Blairs-secret-dealings-South-Korean-oil-firm-UI-Energy-Corp.html#ixzz0ibhsqwG1

News of the secret deals fuelled fresh accusations that Mr Blair is 'cashing in on his contacts' from the controversial Iraq war in what one MP called 'revolving door politics at its worst'.

They will increase concerns that Mr Blair is using his role as the West's Middle East envoy for personal gain.

The revelations also shed fresh light on his astonishing earnings, which include lucrative after-dinner speaking, consultancies with banks and foreign governments, a generous advance for his forthcoming memoirs, as well as the pension and other perks he enjoys as a former Prime Minister.

The full extent of his income is cloaked in secrecy because he has constructed a complex web of shadowy companies and partnerships which let him avoid publishing full accounts detailing all the money from his commercial ventures.
Tony Blair cartoon

Critics also point out that a large proportion of his earnings comes from patrons in America and the Middle East - a clear benefit from forging a close alliance with George Bush during his invasion of Iraq.

Last night Tory MP Douglas Carswell said of Mr Blair's links to UI Energy Corporation: 'This doesn't just look bad, it stinks.

'It seems that the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been in the pay of a very big foreign oil corporation and we have been kept in the dark about it.

'Even now we do not know what he was paid or what the company got out of it. We need that information now.

'This is revolving door politics at its worst. It's not as if Mr Blair has even stepped back from politics, because he is still politically active in the Middle East.

'I'm afraid I have no confidence at all in the committee that vets these appointments. It's no good telling us these deals may be commercially sensitive - we are talking about the appointment of our former Prime Minister and the public interest, rather than any commercial interests, must come first.'

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said: 'These revelations show that our former Prime Minister is for sale - he is driven by making as much money as possible.

'I think many people will find it deeply insensitive that he is apparently cashing in on his contacts from the Iraq war to make money for himself.'

The committee said yesterday that Mr Blair had taken a paid job advising a consortium of investors led by UI Energy in August 2008. The exact nature of the deal is unknown, but UI Energy is one of the biggest investors in Iraq's oil-rich Kurdistan region, which became semi-autonomous in the wake of the Iraq war.

Mr Blair's fee has not been disclosed but is likely to have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The secrecy is particularly odd because UI Energy is fond of boasting of its foreign political advisers, who include the former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke and several prominent American politicians.

Mr Blair successfully persuaded the committee that the appointment was 'market sensitive' and could not be made public.

The committee agreed to suspend its normal practice and keep the deals secret for three months. Mr Blair then asked for a further extension.

When this ran out last year the committee repeatedly 'chased' Mr Blair about the issue without hearing anything. Eventually the committee's chairman, former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Lang, reviewed the papers and ordered the deal to be made public, along with a separate deal with Kuwait which had been kept secret at the request of the Kuwaiti government.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1259030/Tony-Blairs-secret-dealings-South-Korean-oil-firm-UI-Energy-Corp.html#ixzz0ibi1Vzig


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