The wronged husband and the spurned lover resume duel by media

David Blunkett emerged yesterday from what he called 'house arrest' to face the full wrath of a wronged husband. He knows he is not the father of Mrs Quinn's baby. But will he have to accept his career may never recover? By Andy McSmith
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Indy Politics

David Blunkett, the former home secretary who introduced the practice of detaining foreign terrorists indefinitely without charge, remarked ruefully yesterday that he now knows what house arrest feels like.

David Blunkett, the former home secretary who introduced the practice of detaining foreign terrorists indefinitely without charge, remarked ruefully yesterday that he now knows what house arrest feels like.

While Mr Blunkett had the anti-terrorism laws on his mind, the thoughts of Stephen Quinn, his ex-lover's husband, seemed to turn, bizarrely, to washing powder. That was before Mr Quinn's temper snapped, and he issued a frontal attack on Mr Blunkett which must cast a heavy cloud over his prospects of returning to front-line politics.

Squads of journalists and photographers descended simultaneously yesterday on two houses, 168 miles and a gulf of mutual suspicion and resentment apart, hoping to hear more about the six-month-long feud between the socialist politician and his socialite ex-mistress. Each side maintains that it is the other side that started this sudden renewal of press interest.

At Mr Blunkett's modest constituency house in Sheffield, friends mounted a logistical operation to help him to give the press pack outside the slip. He joked to one of them: "I have begun to know what it feels like to be under house arrest. Since December, I feel that I've had imprisonment without trial."

In Mayfair, the long-suffering Mr Quinn stepped out early in the morning to buy his wife a bunch of yellow roses for Mother's Day. "People were banging on my door up to 12 o'clock. I'm fed up with it," he told the media scrum on his doorstep.

"And I just say to you quite clearly we are not discussing our family life in the media. The reason is very simple. We were asked by the family court division not to do so, and why is that? To protect our children, protect William and Lorcan.

"They are our children. We love them. We care for them. We have no obsession with biological details. We have an obsession with our children. That's it. That's it."

He repeated the point about not being obsessed with "biological details" when he left the house a second time, and added a washing powder metaphor - "we're not buying Persil or Daz" - to underline his point.

Later he was seen taking a large quantity of champagne into the house. Later still, he issued his furious denunciation of Mr Blunkett, for breaking the silence that both parties had uneasily observed since the week of Lorcan's birth, on 1 February.

One of the tragedies of this saga is that when Kimberly Quinn ended her three-year relationship with Mr Blunkett last August, relations between them went so far downhill so quickly that they have no civilised means of communication. Each suspected the other of tipping off the News of the World about their affair, though it now appears that neither was the guilty party.

The story is strewn with other examples of mutual suspicion, of which this is the latest example. While Mr Quinn has accused Mr Blunkett of having "breached our family's privacy causing further upset and press intrusion in our lives", Mr Blunkett undoubtedly believes that they breached their own privacy, or that someone close to them did it on their behalf.

Mr Blunkett claims that the result of the DNA test was leaked to The Sun several days ago by someone linked to Kimberly Quinn through The Spectator magazine, and that he issued a statement through the Labour Party press office after the story had appeared.

The statement revealed his irritation with The Sunday Telegraph, which he suspects of being an outlet used by the Quinn family to attack him. "It was recently inaccurately reported in a Sunday newspaper that Mr Blunkett has claimed to be the father of Mrs Quinn's recently born baby. This is not the case," his statement said.

That is correct, in that the DNA test was ordered by a family court, in case Mr Blunkett emerged as the father. The court has already established that he is the father of Mrs Quinn's two-year-son, William, and will make a ruling later about Mr Blunkett's right of access. The Quinns' legal team may use the accusation that he breached the child's privacy as an argument against allowing him access.

What no one has said publicly, though it is implicit in what Mr Quinn said yesterday, is that the DNA test also demonstrated that Mr Quinn is not the biological father either. His wife was tailed by the News of the World for months before they broke the story of her affair with Mr Blunkett. The newspaper is said to have a list of her other lovers.

Mr Quinn desperately wants to be the one to help to bring up both his wife's sons. Within 48 hours of Lorcan's birth, he had rushed to the register office to have himself officially named as the father. The birth certificate was almost immediately slipped to The Sun. "Lorcan is our son," he declared defiantly yesterday.

But while the Quinns may be content to wash their dirty linen in cheap, old-fashioned washing powder, the biological details of this particular clean-up operation matter a great deal to others, including the family court. And most particularly to Mr Blunkett who may now find himself in the political wilderness for ever.

The public faces in Kimberly's complicated life

Kimberly Quinn's complex love life is back under the media spotlight as the hunt to identify her second son's father is in full cry.

Is it the well-known but unnamed television host, a married MP or the Asian media figure with whom The Spectator's publisher is now being linked? These are questions that might seem intrusive but for the main players' involvement in making their private lives so public.

Mrs Quinn has already been connected to several prominent men other than David Blunkett and her husband, Stephen Quinn. The most famous scalp so far belongs to The Guardian political sketchwriter and Spectator wine critic Simon Hoggart, 58. Mr Hoggart, who is married and known to many as the host of BBC Radio 4's News Quiz, initially denied the affair and threatened to sue.

However, within 24 hours, those denials were retracted and, shamefaced, he admitted having a short affair with Mrs Quinn. He insisted, however, he was not the child's father.

A week later, the identity of Mrs Quinn's "fourth man" emerged. It was Lord Leitch, 60, a recently ennobled New Labour peer little known outside party and financial circles, who allegedly had a brief affair with Mrs Quinn in 2001, the year she married her current husband.

Lord Leitch, a city entrepreneur and apparently a close friend of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, is a former chief executive of Zurich Financial Services UK.

Severin Carrell