Blunkett: nanny visa processed 120 days quicker than average

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Indy Politics

An official inquiry into claims that David Blunkett misused his public position to help his former lover today concluded that there was "a chain of events" linking him to the speeding up of her nanny's application for leave to remain in Britain.

An official inquiry into claims that David Blunkett misused his public position to help his former lover today concluded that there was "a chain of events" linking him to the speeding up of her nanny's application for leave to remain in Britain.

Former treasury adviser Sir Alan Budd, in his report into the claims, said the application was processed in 52 days - 120 days quicker than average.

Sir Alan described that estimated difference as "the effect of the intervention" by Mr Blunkett's office.

Sir Alan added: "I have not been able to determine whether Mr Blunkett gave any instructions in relation to the case and, if so, what they were."

Sir Alan's report came just an hour after the publication of the findings of a separate inquiry, which found that Mr Blunkett had breached Commons rules by giving Mrs Quinn a parliamentary rail warrant worth £179.

Parliamentary standards commissioner Sir Philip Mawer said Mr Blunkett was "in clear breach" of the rules, which state that the rail passes may be used only by MPs' spouses, not their unmarried partners.

Mr Blunkett has already admitted he was wrong to give his lover the tickets for a trip from London to Doncaster in August 2002, and has repaid the money.

Sir Philip's report was upheld by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee, which said: "The Green Book (which details rules on allowances) was clear that only spouses are eligible for free travel. Mr Blunkett should have been aware of this."

In a statement, Mr Blunkett said he had apologised "unreservedly" for the misuse of the travel voucher, but insisted that it was "a genuine mistake".

In a letter of "profuse apology" to Sir Philip on December 8, he explained that he had wrongly presumed that the right to a spouse's rail warrant had been extended to partners in 1997, when rules were changed to allow unmarried partners to claim spouses' passes to the Houses of Parliament.

"I considered Ms Fortier, as she was then known, to be my partner although she remained married to someone else, given that she was eight months pregnant with my child," he wrote.

The committee did not recommend that any further action be taken against Mr Blunkett in relation to the rail ticket. He will not be required to apologise to the Commons for his breach of its rules.

Sir Alan told a press conference in central London that he had accepted the commission to conduct his inquiry only on the basis that "I would be able to do so with complete independence and absolute freedom to report whatever conclusions were justified by the evidence I obtained".

He added: "I can report that in my inquiry, I received co-operation from Mr Blunkett and Home Office officials.

"I do not believe that there was any attempt to destroy, conceal or withhold documents or information that was relevant to my inquiry."

Sir Alan said that his inquiry had not been influenced by press comment at the time.

He said that at the start of the inquiry he had requested a record of all telephone, fax and email traffic between those parties who could have been involved in the case.

"This took some time to complete. But the most important findings - the emails between Queen Anne's Gate (the Home Office) and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at Croydon - were reported directly to me on Saturday December 11, before the spate of speculation in the Sunday press that weekend," he said.

He said that he had not commented on whether Mr Blunkett had breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

"These are matters for others and there is a well-established machinery for examining these issues, including the propriety of ministers' actions as Members of Parliament," he said.

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