Revealed: Blunkett broke rules on job with DNA firm

His breach of the Ministerial Code last night prompted demands for his resignation and a full investigation.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions failed to seek advice from an independent watchdog before becoming a director of a DNA testing firm in April. The breach came only a month after he was reminded of the rules. Mr Blunkett's spokesman last night said that he admitted "with hindsight, it might have been better if he had written to the committee."

Mr Blunkett was briefly a non-executive director of DNA Bioscience before he returned to the Cabinet after Labour's election victory on 5 May. According to section 5.29 of the official code he should first have sought the advice of the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

The watchdog, set up under John Major to stem the tide of sleaze cases under his leadership, has confirmed that the former home secretary failed to consult it over the lucrative directorship.

It also released correspondence showing that Mr Blunkett was warned in March that he had failed to consult over a previous appointment. The former minister wrote then to apologise about the "misunderstanding" over his work as an adviser to Indepen Consulting Ltd.

Mr Blunkett's failure to abide by the rules brought condemnation from the Conservatives. Chris Grayling, shadow Leader of the House, called for his resignation, saying: "There now needs to be an urgent inquiry into Mr Blunkett's conduct in relation to his business interests. There are just too many questions that have gone unanswered for it not to be looked at properly.

"Mr Blunkett's position is now increasingly untenable. I really don't see how he can carry on as a cabinet minister given all that's gone on in recent days."

Mr Grayling has written to both the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, and the Prime Minister, demanding they investigate the breach.

A spokesman for Mr Blunkett said: "Had Mr Blunkett not returned to government, there would have been time to seek clarification in regards to the committee, accepting as he does its helpful role.

"Mr Blunkett believed that he was acting within the Ministerial Code, but with hindsight it might have been better if he had written to the committee prior to parliament returning.

"When Mr Blunkett sought the advice, regarding Indepen earlier in the year, the response from the Advisory Committee on 15 March was: 'It is right, therefore, to point out that the voluntary character of the scheme for former ministers is exactly that: it is voluntary. Accordingly, it is not necessary for you to apologise for having taken up your appointment without referring to my committee.'

"And again on 2 March: 'The system under which former ministers can seek our advice about outside appointments is a voluntary and advisory one.'

"Mr Blunkett has asked the Secretary to the Cabinet to clarify the procedure in order to avoid any confusion in the future."

Despite Mr Blunkett's protestations, the code is unambiguous, however. Section 5.29 states: "On leaving office, ministers should seek advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments about any appointments they wish to take up within two years of leaving office."

MPs have already raised questions about his shares in the firm, which are reported to have made a profit of up to £285,000, but he insisted last week that he had not broken the Ministerial Code over the shareholdings.

News
people
Sport
Newcastle players celebrate, Mario Balotelli scores, Alan Pardew and Brendan Rodgers
footballNewcastle vs Liverpool , Arsenal vs Burnley, Chelsea vs QPR and Everton vs Swansea
News
i100Amazing Amazon review bomb
Arts and Entertainment
The Spice Girls' feminism consisted of shouting 'girl power' and doing peace signs in latex catsuits
musicWhat is it? You know what you want it to be...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
News
Moss and Grimshaw arrive at the party
peopleKate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Nick Grimshaw at Jonathan Ross's Halloween party
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
News
i100
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Travel
travelPurrrfect jet comes to Europe
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities