British Home Secretary David Blunkett’s row with his pregnant ex-lover over access to her two-year-old son prompted a new round of claims and counter-claims today.
Mr Blunkett won the first round of a court battle with Mrs Quinn, when a High Court judge dismissed her call for a delay in the hearing of the Home Secretary’s application for a contact order over the boy, known as “A” for legal reasons.
Mrs Quinn claimed her physical and mental health were at “significant risk”, but on Friday Mr Justice Ryder ruled that the case should go ahead.
Now the saga has moved from the courtroom back to the front pages of the Sunday newspapers.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that Mrs Quinn, publisher of right-wing weekly The Spectator, wants to testify directly to former Treasury official Sir Alan Budd’s inquiry into allegations that Mr Blunkett fast-tracked her Filipino nanny Leoncia Casalme’s application for permanent residency in Britain.
Her husband Stephen was quoted as saying: “She has written to Budd. I’ve said to her that it is singularly important that she does this. It would be disgraceful if he wasn’t interested in her evidence.”
The newspaper also said that it had learned that in a meeting on August 13 at the offices of the London solicitors Simkins, the Home Office’s head of news, John Toker, pressed Mrs Quinn to agree the release of a statement saying that her marriage was over in all but name. A spokesman for Mr Blunkett insisted that that claim was “totally untrue.”
The Sunday Telegraph went on to report that it understood that Mr Blunkett would concede to the Budd inquiry that the visa application was fast-tracked, but insist that he had nothing to do with the acceleration of the process.
Instead, an “overzealous” junior official working on the application would be identified as the source of the speeding up.
Mr Blunkett’s spokesman dismissed that claim as “complete speculation”.
But the newspaper quoted an unnamed Cabinet minister and friend of the Home Secretary as saying: “You cannot have full control of an organisation when parts of it are doing what they think the boss wants, even if they have not been told to.”
Mr Quinn, meanwhile, has revealed that his wife has been moved from St Mary’s Hospital at Paddington, west London, to a specialist unit amid growing concerns for her health.
He was quoted in The Observer as saying: “She’s very unwell and we’ve moved her to another hospital where she can get much more detailed care.”
She would remain there for at least two weeks.