Errors in Blunkett's story put comeback in jeopardy

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Indy Politics

David Blunkett misled the public over his account of his involvement in the "fast-tracking" of the visa for his lover's nanny, the Budd inquiry will reveal.

David Blunkett misled the public over his account of his involvement in the "fast-tracking" of the visa for his lover's nanny, the Budd inquiry will reveal.

A government document obtained last night contradicts the explanation given by the former home secretary, who this weekend is awaiting the findings of the inquiry by Sir Alan Budd. When the allegations first arose, Mr Blunkett's senior advisers said that because he is blind, the visa application was read to him so he could check it was correctly completed.

This version has been challenged in an official "timeline" account submitted to the Budd inquiry by the Home Office, with the authority of No 10. The official account says: "David Blunkett believed he had read the form with a private secretary at this stage and checked it over before handing back to Kimberly Quinn, his then lover.

"He believed that was his only involvement with the application but it now appears the form did not come to the Home Secretary's office [in the first instance] and was not sent to IND [Immigration and Nationality Directorate] via the Home Secretary's office."

It says Mr Blunkett's damaging involvement came later when he may have intervened, however inadvertently, when the nanny, Leoncia Casalme, received a warning from the Home Office that she could face a delay of 12 months.

Next week's Budd report could wreck Mr Blunkett's hopes of a comeback after the general election if it condemns him for the errors in his account. However, there were reports last night that one of his aides may be prepared to accept responsibility for the mistakes.

Mr Blunkett was forced to resign after Sir Alan re-interviewed civil service officials and confirmed that Mr Blunkett may have remonstrated with officials at the delay in processing the nanny's application.

Sir Alan found evidence in e-mails between the IND office in Croydon and the Home Office. He also discovered a fax had been sent to the Croydon officials by Mr Blunkett's office.

Yesterday, the official timeline confirmed that the fax from the Home Secretary's private office to IND officials, which could be a vital piece of evidence, had been destroyed. Referring to events on the 29 April last year, it says: "It now seems probable that David Blunkett sent the letter in with his overnight box to his office before heading to north Wales on a Labour Party visit. "He has no recollection of issuing any instruction regarding the letter and nor do his staff remember receiving any. However, it seems probable his private office faxed the letter to a member of staff in the IND director general's office in Croydon.

"This fax has not survived; it was not placed in the file relating to this application. There is therefore no way of knowing precisely what it asked the recipient to do."

On 8 May, Mr Blunkett's private office e-mailed the director general's office to ask about progress of the case. Neither of the staff concerned remembered what the request involved.

On 9 May the member of staff from the IND director general's office replied saying that the case had been dealt with, that "no special favours had been involved but the case had been done just a bit quicker".