Blunkett letter: 'I have been honest about my recollection of events'

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Indy Politics

This is an edited version of the statement issued by David Blunkett yesterday:

When the issue of the application for ILR (indefinite leave to remain) for Ms Casalme emerged on 28 November, I immediately asked for an inquiry to be set up. Sir Alan Budd has undertaken that inquiry over the last two weeks. The key issue has always been whether I used my public office for private benefit.

Since these issues were first raised, I have always given my honest recollection of the facts, on the record as I remembered them. At that time and subsequently I said that the issue of Ms Casalme's application was not taken up by my office beyond it being read to me initially. These statements have been based on the recollections of myself and the officials in my office at the time.

Yesterday, Sir Alan Budd told me there had indeed been a fax and an exchange of e-mails between my office and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate - not based on the application form as originally alleged but on the subsequent letter (informing her of a possible 12-month delay) of which I was always aware but did not remember holding a copy. I have no recollection of dealing with this in any way.

However, whether or not I asked for any action to be taken is irrelevant to the inference that can be drawn.

Given I have no recollection of issuing instructions to deal with the application, but only to continue the elimination of the backlog in general, the easy thing would be to hide behind my officials. I will not do such a thing. In no way is my office or any individual within the department to blame for what happened.

These issues would never have been raised had I not decided in September that I could not walk away from my youngest son. I could not live with myself or believe I had done the best for him in the long term if I had abandoned my relationship with him. I only sought continued access to him through the courts, as I made clear two weeks ago, because all other avenues had been denied me.