Allegation of second affair with secretary in ministerial office

David Blunkett was hit by more revelations about his private life last night as it was reported that he had an affair with a civil servant nearly 20 years his junior.

David Blunkett was hit by more revelations about his private life last night as it was reported that he had an affair with a civil servant nearly 20 years his junior.

Mr Blunkett had the five-month relationship with the woman when he was Education Secretary five years ago, according to The Mail on Sunday. The woman was a secretary seconded to Mr Blunkett's office.

Friends of the Home Secretary dismissed as "rubbish", however, suggestions that the woman's former partner, also a civil servant in Mr Blunkett's department, was promoted to placate him. They do not deny Mr Blunkett had a relationship with the woman, now 39, according to the tabloid.

"David accepts that it was all a bit messy and accepts that she left the other guy in the process. But as far he is concerned, she was single when she was going out with him," The Mail on Sunday reported a friend as saying.

Nevertheless, the further revelations about Mr Blunkett's private life will undermine him as he struggles to survive the fall-out from his relationship with Kimberly Quinn. The fact that they involve civil servants working for him will fuel claims that there has been a dangerous "blurring" between his private and professional lives.

It is also likely to increase unease among female Labour MPs over the effect of Mr Blunkett's behaviour on women voters.

Speaking before the current round of allegations a number of female Labour MPs last night voiced their support for Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North, who has condemned his behaviour. "I find it distasteful that he is harassing a seven-month pregnant woman," she said. "He can either pursue this woman in court or he can be Home Secretary. He can't do both."

One of the most senior women still in the Government said that she believed Mr Blunkett ought to resign, though she said it was likely he would stay in office until after the general election.

"I don't see how he can continue with this going on, especially with a case dragging on," she said.

A well-respected backbench female MP said: "It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. The impression that is being left in people's mind is that he is a bully."

The potential embarrassment for Labour is increased by the fact that it will shortly introduce reforms to the family courts.

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