Tony Blair has launched a personal crusade on behalf of a Territorial Army soldier forced to pay for his own medical treatment following injury in Iraq.

Mr Blair, in his role as constituency MP, has taken the remarkable step of writing to his own defence secretary to ask him to intervene.

TA man David Corrigan tore the cartilage in his left knee while on active duty with the Parachute Regiment in April 2003.

But because he is no longer on active service, the Army has stopped paying for his treatment.

The former TA paramedic has also left the reserve force and has needed several operations - and been forced to pay £2,140 for the latest round of surgery.

He suffers severe pain from the injury and can no longer do his former job at the North-East Ambulance Service. The 44-year-old says he is shocked at the difference in treatment between TA soldiers and their full-time colleagues.

But now Mr Corrigan, of Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has had his fight taken up by his constituency MP - Tony Blair.

And the Prime Minister has written to Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon calling for TA members who serve in wartime to be treated the same as regular soldiers.

Mr Blair's agent, John Burton, said: "I've met with David Corrigan and think he has been treated very badly and he is not the only one. His case has raised the whole issue of how TA members are treated when they return from serving in wartime.

"TA members serve their country in the same way as regular soldiers and if they are injured in conflict they should receive the same treatment.

"We have written to Geoff Hoon and have asked him to look into the matter.

I think we may have ruffled some feathers, but sometimes you need to in order to get things done."

Mr Corrigan had served in the Territorial Army for 22 years and was sent to Iraq as part of the initial invasion of the country in February 2003.

He tore cartilage in his left knee in southern Iraq and since returning to the UK has undergone a series of operations and rehabilitation, which he says has left him needing 60mg of codeine and 1000mg of paracetamol every four hours.

The father-of-one said: "The way I have been treated since I was evacuated from Iraq is disgusting.

"When I first arrived back in the UK they dumped me in a barracks in Luton and expected me to make my own way back to the North-East. "I had to hitch a ride back to the region and when I got here I found out that the Army hadn't even bothered to tell my wife Marie that I had been hurt.

"After I got home I had no contact from the Army whatsoever and had to demand something be done about my knee as I was in agony.

"I went through two unsuccessful operations at an Army hospital followed by rehab but ended up aggravating my injury. They then told me I was fit to go back to work and cut me loose. I ended up having to pay for an operation out of own pocket. Unfortunately the damage seems permanent and I've been told that I could be left with severe arthritis.

"It is disgraceful how I have been treated. If they can do it to me there could be countless soldiers out there in the same situation."

Mr Corrigan's is now suing the Army for clinical negligence.

His solicitor Andrew McDonald said: "Mr Corrigan has been appallingly treated and has every reason to be angry. We are in the process of investigating if there is any liability on the part of the Ministry of Defence."

A MoD spokesman last night said: "We can confirm that a letter sent from Mr Blair, in his capacity as a constituency MP, has been received by the Defence Secretary.

"The issues raised are currently being investigated."