Blunkett tells press to show restraint over private lives

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David Blunkett yesterday appealed to newspapers to be more restrained in the way they cover the private lives of public figures, after the ordeal that forced him out of office three months ago.

David Blunkett yesterday appealed to newspapers to be more restrained in the way they cover the private lives of public figures, after the ordeal that forced him out of office three months ago.

Last week, The Independent on Sunday reported Mr Blunkett's comment to a friend comparing his experience after the break-up of his affair with The Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn to a form of house arrest.

In his first on-the-record interview since his resignation, the former home secretary said yesterday that he was "amazed" that he did not "flip out" as he was besieged by journalists covering his dispute with Mrs Quinn over the paternity of her son, William.

However, he emphasised that others faced similar harassment - a remark which could be interpreted as an olive branch to Mrs Quinn and her husband, Stephen, who went through a similar experience during the saga.

Last week, Mr Quinn attacked Mr Blunkett for intruding on their privacy by making a public statement after it had been revealed that the former home secretary was not the father of Mrs Quinn's younger child, born last month.

Interviewed in yesterday's Guardian, Mr Blunkett said: "For weeks and weeks after 28 November I didn't sleep beyond 4am for a very long time, and it was inevitably taking its toll on all of us who were involved.

"I'm saying all of us, because I don't want anyone to think that somehow exclusively I had a bad time. All those who were engaged in this tragedy, because it is a tragedy, were equally affected. We all now need to pull round.

"I was amazed at what the media can do. I had press, including the broadcast media, outside my home every single day for a month and I even had a cameraman on Christmas morning; and I'm just amazed looking back that I didn't actually flip and lose my temper.

"I appreciate I wasn't the only one facing that type of harassment, but I do think we have to take a step back and ask what we do to people. I'd like to see some self-restraint."

Mr Blunkett resigned in December when an inquiry found he had given a false account of his involvement in a visa application for Mrs Quinn's nanny.

He is due to begin easing himself back into political life, and is hopingto rejoin the Government after the election. But some think Tony Blair will not risk bringing him back.

"You don't return to the front line simply on your past; you have to have something to offer for the future," he said, adding that what "was done to me at the end of November was damaging to me and it would be ridiculous of me not to understand that."

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