Blunkett faces inquiry over ex-lover's claims

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Indy Politics

David Blunkett's cabinet career hung in the balance last night after he ordered an independent inquiry into allegations by his former lover, Kimberly Quinn, that he abused his powers as Home Secretary to fast-track a visa for her Filipina nanny.

David Blunkett's cabinet career hung in the balance last night after he ordered an independent inquiry into allegations by his former lover, Kimberly Quinn, that he abused his powers as Home Secretary to fast-track a visa for her Filipina nanny.

Downing Street was standing by Mr Blunkett but a cabinet colleague said: "We don't know if David can survive."

The Home Secretary's friends accused Mrs Quinn, wife of a publisher, of waging a vendetta against Mr Blunkett because DNA tests proved he is the father of her two-year-old son, William, rather than her husband, Stephen. Mr Blunkett also claims to be the father of a second child, due in the new year.

"A lot of smears are being thrown at David because he is the father of her child. He has known for two years and they are now engaged in a dispute," said an ally. "She is hitting back."

Friends of Mr Blunkett are worried about the pressure on him. "He is heartbroken over this. He has gone a little mad with his obsession over her. He thought she was going to marry him. She said she would leave her husband. It is very sad," said a ministerial friend. Mrs Quinn has told friends that Mr Blunkett is using his claims about the paternity to try to win her back. She has made a series of claims about how Mr Blunkett abused his power at the height of their affair, which he says lasted until earlier this year.

Mrs Quinn's most serious allegation came in an e-mail claiming that Mr Blunkett helped to fast-track an application for a visa for Leoncia "Luz" Casalme, 36, who was challenged by a newspaper about it. If that is proved, Mr Blunkett could be forced to resign.

The leaked e-mail by Mrs Quinn to a friend on Thursday last week said: "I have had Luz on the phone very tearful, saying that she had been contacted about the passport [visa] application that David fast-tracked for her ... he's so paranoid he'll think it's me and try and nail me."

Mrs Quinn also claimed Mr Blunkett had given her two first-class rail tickets assigned to him for his work as an MP; put pressure on the US embassy for a passport for her son to travel with Mr Blunkett on holiday in France; had used a government driver to take Mrs Quinn to his home in Derbyshire for weekend trysts; took Mrs Quinn to Spain with a driver and four security officers; tipped off Mrs Quinn that her American parents should avoid Newark airport because of a security scare; and stationed police outside her £2m Mayfair home as protection against May Day rioters.

The Sunday Telegraph, which is owned by the same group for which Mrs Quinn works, reported the claims. It also said Mr Blunkett tried to help when Rosa Monckton, wife of the editor Dominic Lawson, had forgotten her passport for a trip to France. Immigration officials said they were prepared to allow her to travel but French authorities refused her entry and no assistance was given.

Mr Blunkett strenuously denied all the allegations, insisting he had simply been asked to check a visa application form to see it was filled in correctly.

And he said: "I am very saddened that someone I cared so deeply for should seek, quite erroneously, to damage my public position. This cannot be in the interests of any of us. I shall continue to keep my private life private and separate from my public duties."

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, warned against another "whitewash inquiry". The inquiry is seen as an attempt to stop the allegations overshadowing Labour's law and order election strategy, including the publication today by Mr Blunkett of the identity cards Bill.

Last night, Mr Blunkett asked the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, John Gieve, to appoint an independent investigator to look into the claims. He added: "I regret the time and resources needed to undertake this inquiry but, in the light of the flagrant attempt to link my public position with the deeply personal circumstances of my private life, I believe that, on this specific occasion, it is right to lay this accusation to rest."

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