How 'IoS' story triggered furious row with Prescott

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Indy Politics

A series of leaks to newspapers about the arguments over whether to bring in an identity card scheme triggered a furious argument between David Blunkett and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

A series of leaks to newspapers about the arguments over whether to bring in an identity card scheme triggered a furious argument between David Blunkett and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

Mr Prescott suspected that the Home Secretary was doing the leaking, to which Mr Blunkett furiously countered that he found the leaks personally embarrassing - with the worst example, in his view, being a confidential document that fell into the hands of The Independent on Sunday.

Mr Blunket told his biographer, Stephen Pollard: "Somebody at adviser or minister level in other departments has got it in for me. There's nobody been leaked against as much as I have: two White Papers, the ID stuff three times - including a letter that actually said 'please do not distribute this letter', with The Independent on Sunday actually printing the words 'please do not print this letter'. None of it's been done with a helpful eye."

The Home Secretary was evidently speaking from memory about a report that had appeared in this newspaper about five months earlier, in July 2003. It revealed that the announcement of the ID cards proposal had had to be delayed, because of fears about the amount of inconvenience it would cause to members of the public.

As Mr Blunkett rightly recalled, the report was based on a confidential document, on which he had included a plea that it should not be leaked. The exact words on the document were: "Only those in your office and the key official dealing with these matters should have sight of this document, and I would be grateful if you would also keep a register of those who have seen this material."

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