'I have done nothing wrong' insists Blunkett

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Indy Politics

David Blunkett today defiantly insisted he had done nothing wrong, after fresh claims that his former lover's nanny had her visa application speeded up.

David Blunkett today defiantly insisted he had done nothing wrong, after fresh claims that his former lover's nanny had her visa application speeded up.

The Home Secretary arrived for a meeting at the Passport Office in London saying: "I wouldn't be standing here this morning, and I wouldn't have had the support of the Prime Minister, if I thought there was any doubt whatsoever about what I had done, my openness, my integrity."

He added: "I think it's in the best interests of everyone now to get all the events out in the open so all of us can get on with living our lives sensibly."

The Home Secretary's comments came after letters from Home Office officials published in today's Daily Mail appeared to show Filipino nanny Leoncia Casalme, who worked for Mr Blunkett's married former lover Kimberly Quinn, was granted residency in Britain early.

Mr Blunkett made his comments outside the Passport Office, where he was arriving for a scheduled meeting.

He conceded the Daily Mail documents were authentic, but said they proved nothing.

Mr Blunkett said: "I am very clear that many people will be bewildered and bemused.

"I would like to thank so many people who have been in touch with me offering support and giving me their trust.

"I have done nothing wrong.

"While the review by a former adviser to the previous Conservative Government takes place, it will have all the papers and materials available.

"There is no dispute whatsoever about the documents that the Daily Mail have produced this morning. They are authentic.

"They prove absolutely nothing except that we were moving through the process of fast-tracking a very large number of documents prior to the beginning of charging for indefinite leave to remain, and we will be saying later in the day something about that without actually damaging Sir Alan Budd's investigation.

"Thanks again to people who are giving me their support.

"I wouldn't be standing here and I wouldn't have had the support of the Prime Minister or have requested myself on Sunday the review if I thought there was any doubt whatsoever about my integrity.

"I have spent 34 years building peoples' trust. I do not intend to throw it away."

Shadow home secretary David Davis said Mr Blunkett's position would be "untenable" if he was involved in influencing the fast-track of the visa application.

Officials wrote to Miss Casalme on April 23 last year saying her application had been received.

But the letter in the Daily Mail said: "The waiting period for these cases is about 12 months at the moment." But just 19 days later she had her visa.

In another letter from the Home Office, an official said: "I am writing to say that there are no longer any restrictions on the period for which you may remain in the UK."

In bold type the letter stated: "You can now remain indefinitely in the United Kingdom."

The allegation is the most serious of a raft of claims facing Mr Blunkett after the break-up of his relationship with Mrs Quinn.

Ex-Treasury mandarin Sir Alan Budd is to investigate the visa allegation after Mr Blunkett himself ordered a probe.

Tory MP Peter Viggers today tabled a string of Commons questions to Prime Minister Tony Blair asking how the costs of that inquiry would be met and under what authority Sir Alan was acting.

Mr Davis told GMTV that the paper trail of the visa application needed to be followed very carefully.

"This handling (of the visa application) in 19 days occurred at a time when the immigration department was in chaos," he said.

"So it's extraordinary that it's happened and implies that somebody must have intervened, somebody senior, if not the minister, some senior civil servant."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said: "The emergence of new documentary evidence shows that something very unusual took place with this visa application.

"The Home Secretary still denies any wrongdoing. It is important that the inquiry looks at the role of the Civil Service to establish exactly what occurred in this case."

Mr Davis added: "If the Daily Mail story is correct it is very difficult to understand how this can be the normal length of procedure for an application to remain.

"Mr Blunkett will have to explain precisely how this rapid processing of the application came about. If he influenced this matter, his position is untenable."

The latest twist came after Mr Blunkett last night admitted he had been wrong to give a rail warrant intended for MPs' spouses to his married lover.

His spokesman said he would repay the £180 cost of the train ticket to Doncaster insisting he had made a "genuine mistake".

Mr Blunkett claims he is the father of Mrs Quinn's two-year-old son William and her unborn child. She is married to publisher Stephen Quinn.

Mrs Quinn was admitted to St Mary's Hospital, in Paddington, west London, last night and is being kept under observation.

Mr Blunkett left the Passport Office after a 20-minute meeting without making further comment to the press.

As he walked to his ministerial car with his guide dog Sadie, a passer-by shouted: "You're a good man Dave. You ain't done nothing wrong. Get your kids back."

Mrs Quinn's husband called later for a ceasefire for the sake of her health.

Speaking outside his London home, Stephen Quinn said: "I think it is in the best interests of the child and her that the matter is put aside.

"I would like to seek an adjournment until such a time as our baby is born and my wife has recovered from that."

Mr Quinn said his wife had difficulties during her first pregnancy and her health was his main priority.

Seven months pregnant Mrs Quinn was in hospital last night after stress caused by the revelations.