'I'm a hard-working nanny and I haven't done anything wrong'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Leoncia Casalme, the Filipina nanny at the centre of the David Blunkett row, arrived in the UK in 1999 with an expatriate British family she had been working for in Jordan.

Leoncia Casalme, the Filipina nanny at the centre of the David Blunkett row, arrived in the UK in 1999 with an expatriate British family she had been working for in Jordan.

Like many Filipinos who have found work abroad, she was hoping for a better standard of living than the one she would have found in her poverty-stricken homeland.

Yesterday the 36-year-old, known as Luz, was under pressure to explain whether the Home Secretary, who had an affair with her next employer, Kimberly Quinn, helped fast-track her application for a permanent work visa.

She told reporters outside her terraced home in Dagenham, east London: "I don't know what is going on. I gave my passport to my boss, Mrs Quinn, and then she gave it back to me. I did not know anything about it being fast-tracked.'' She added: "I'm a hard-working nanny. I am not a bad person and I haven't done anything wrong."

Ms Casalme went to work for Mrs Quinn, the publisher of The Spectator, in September 2002. Mrs Quinn had recently given birth to a son, William. So far as the new nanny was concerned, the child's father was Mrs Quinn's husband, Stephen, the current publisher of Vogue magazine. In fact, Mrs Quinn was then in the middle of an affair with Mr Blunkett - who is now said to be William's father.

The nanny had arrived in this country on a temporary work visa and would not have been eligible for permanent residency until July 2003.

However, in spring 2003, according to reports, Ms Casalme asked Mrs Quinn for help with her application. She in turn asked Mr Blunkett for help. In a private e-mail which appears to have been leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, Mrs Quinn says the application was "fast-tracked for her [Ms Casalme]" by Mr Blunkett. It is also claimed that when pressed to find out how the application was going, Mr Blunkett told Mrs Quinn: "She would never have got it if it hadn't been for me. So she should just shut up."

The Home Secretary has denied the claims and said that all he did was to ensure the application was in order before returning it to Mrs Quinn and her nanny, who then submitted the application in the normal fashion. It was eventually granted, although it is not clear exactly when. Mr Blunkett's aides have also flatly denied a suggestion that he sent his driver to pick up Ms Casalme's passport.

An inquiry into the allegations was ordered by Mr Blunkett on Sunday, to be conducted by Sir Alan Budd. It will examine whether Mr Blunkett used his position to influence the granting of the permanent visa. If there is any suggestion that he did, his political career would be in jeopardy.

Ms Casalme, who stopped working for Mrs Quinn about two months ago, now finds herself at the centre of a media storm. Last week, contacted by reporters wanting to know about the application, she rang Mrs Quinn in tears asking for help; that led to the controversial e-mail.

Although the circumstances under which she stopped working for Mrs Quinn are not known, she made it clear yesterday that she still supported her former employer. She told reporters: "I love Mrs Quinn and her child like he is my own.''

Comments