New affair allegations force Blunkett to break silence

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Indy Politics

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, was last night forced out into the open in the row over his affair with Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has been forced out into the open in the row over his affair with Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn.

After weeks of official silence over a story that has been trumpeted across the tabloid press, he spoke out yesterday about his regret over a relationship which has turned so sour so publicly.

Mr Blunkett issued his statement in reaction to a series of allegations apparently emanating from his former lover, some of which reflected on his probity as a minister and MP.

"I am very saddened that someone I cared so deeply for should seek, quite erroneously, to damage my public position," he said. "This cannot be in the interests of any of us. I shall continue to keep my private life private and separate from my public duties."

The most serious allegation against Mr Blunkett, reported in today's Sunday Telegraph, is that he used his position to help Mrs Quinn's former nanny to obtain permission to live in Britain.

In a statement issued by Mr Blunkett's office last night he denied the allegation, saying that he did no more than check whether the application from Leoncia Casalme was in "good order".

The other allegations are: that Mr Blunkett:

* Shared confidential information with her, advising her to tell her parents to avoid a US airport hours before a security scare and telling her in advance about a police raid in Manchester.

* Ordered a policeman to stand guard outside her Mayfair home during a May Day anti-capitalist demonstration;

* Gave her a first-class rail ticket assigned to him for his work as an MP and used his government chauffeur to drive her to meet him at his Derbyshire home.

* Put pressure on the US Embassy to issue a temporary passport for her son in 2003. * Took her to Spain for a wedding accompanied by four bodyguards and a driver paid for by the taxpayer.

Mr Blunkett's spokesman said that any information the Home Secretary shared with Mrs Quinn about the Newark and Manchester incidents was "already in the public domain". He dismissed as "nonsense" the suggestion that Mr Blunkett had insisted on a policeman being stationed outside Mrs Quinn's door for the May Day demo.

He confirmed that Mr Blunkett had given Mrs Quinn a rail ticket intended for an MP's spouse in August 2002, at a time when she was eight months pregnant and they were in a close relationship. And he confirmed that Mrs Quinn and her son had been given lifts by his chauffeur, but insisted that this happened only when the driver was on official business, picking up or delivering government boxes.

He added: "He did not put any pressure on the American embassy. She needed a passport quickly for William and he rang the embassy and asked them how to do it."

Mr Blunkett did visit Spain with Mrs Quinn, accompanied by bodyguards, the spokesman said. But he added: "Wherever he travels, David goes with bodyguards. She would have paid for her own travel and David paid for his."

One issue on which Mr Blunkett has never commented publicly is the dispute over the paternity of Mrs Quinn's two children, William and another who is yet to be born, due in February. According to unofficial sources he is convinced that he is the father of both and wants to be recognised as such. Mr Blunkett is understood to have hired lawyers to contest the paternity of both.

The shadow home secretary David Davis called for an independent inquiry led by a judge into the claims. Issues relating to the paternity of Mrs Quinn's children were private matters which should not form part of any inquiry.

Stephen Quinn, the husband of Kimberly and publisher of Vogue magazine, insisted last night that he intended to be father to both children: "I adore my wife and I love William more than I can say."