ALMOST £8m of taxpayers' money was used to police RAF Fairford during the Iraq war.

The airbase was subjected to several demonstrations by anti-war protesters after it was used to launch B-52 bombers during the conflict.

Figures show that between 2002 and 2004, the police operation cost £7.79m.

Anti-war protesters won a legal battle on Wednesday to prove their rights to protest were violated when police detained a group of 120 campaigners in their coaches in March 2003.

Gloucestershire Police said it was "disappointed" with the decision, and that officers acted in "good faith".

The High Court and Court of Appeal had already ruled that police acted unlawfully in holding the demonstrators on the coaches.

Following a Freedom of Information request, figures show that £6.7m was spent over the two years on overtime and on police support units from other forces.

Gloucestershire Police alone spent £374,000 with the rest of the money coming from a Home Office grant.

A Gloucestershire Police spokesman said: "The policing operation at RAF Fairford, which lasted several months, was extremely successful.

"During the lifespan of the operation Gloucestershire Police, with the support of colleagues from several other forces, were able to maintain the security and integrity of the base's 13.5-mile perimeter fence with minimal disruption to military personnel working at RAF Fairford.

"At the same time police actions made it possible for thousands of people to protest peacefully outside the base."