Grayling, the new boy nicknamed the Jackal

But while he does not look like a killer, the Tory frontbencher Chris Grayling's pursuit over the past few months of Mr Blunkett has finally proved lethal.

Mr Grayling entered Parliament in 2001 as MP for Epsom and Ewell, an impregnable Tory stronghold. As a close ally of Liam Fox, he won plaudits for the way he helped the right-winger mount a serious challenge against David Davis for the party leadership.

On leaving university, he joined the BBC's news training scheme, and worked as a producer on BBC News and Channel 4's programme Business Daily. After a few years in television production, he ran a number of small and medium-sized production businesses before moving to become a director in the employee communication practice at the international communications firm, Burson Marsteller.

Mr Grayling denied last night that he had pursued a vendetta against the former Work and Pensions Secretary, saying: "I am sorry his career has ended in this way, but he has always said he expects to be treated in exactly the same way as any other minister."