Blunkett scandal report due today

The findings of the investigation into claims that former British Home Secretary David Blunkett misused his public position to help his former lover will be published later today.

The findings of the investigation into claims that former British Home Secretary David Blunkett misused his public position to help his former lover will be published later today.

Former UK Treasury adviser Sir Alan Budd has spent three weeks examining claims that Mr Blunkett helped to “fast-track” Kimberly Quinn’s nanny’s application for indefinite leave to remain in Britain.

Budd is due to unveil his conclusions at noon – just an hour after the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee issues its report on Mr Blunkett’s gift to Mrs Quinn, a married American publisher, of rail tickets intended for MPs’ spouses.

Budd’s remit was to examine claims that Mr Blunkett accelerated the application, submitted on March 12 last year by Leoncia Casalme, the Filipina nanny employed by Mrs Quinn.

On April 23, 2003, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) wrote to Ms Casalme, warning that it could take up to a year to process the application.

Five days later Mrs Quinn showed that letter to Mr Blunkett.

On May 12, Ms Casalme received another letter from the IND, telling her that her application had been approved.

Mr Blunkett has consistently denied exerting improper influence to speed up the process.

But Budd’s discovery of a fax and an exchange of emails between Mr Blunkett’s office and the IND relating to Ms Casalme’s case prompted Mr Blunkett’s resignation last Wednesday.

The Conservatives have criticised Budd’s original remit as too narrow, arguing that other claims relating to the relationship between Mr Blunkett and Mrs Quinn should be examined, such as the use of civil servants and the use of official transport.

The Tories intensified their demands for Budd to be allowed greater scope in the wake of a report suggesting that Mrs Quinn used her influence to help her nanny secure a visa to visit Austria.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was a matter for Budd whether he wanted to examine those allegations.

Yesterday, London’s Evening Standard reported that Ms Casalme’s case file was marked “restricted”.

It quoted an un-named, senior source at the IND as saying that the classification was placed on the file after she was granted leave to remain.

The source was quoted as saying: “I can’t think of a Filipina nanny in the country who has this categorisation, other than this one. It would suggest that somebody did not want her case to be widely known.”

Shadow home secretary David Davis commented: “It is extremely unusual that what would otherwise have been a minor case should receive the same sort of treatment as cases with national security interests.

“Clearly these decisions would have had to have been made at a very senior level and reinforce our concern that a cover-up may have taken place as far back as 2003.”

A Labour spokesman speaking on behalf of Mr Blunkett said: “David has no idea how the case file was labelled. Every case file is private. If anyone has a specific allegation, they have had three weeks to report it to Sir Alan Budd as part of his inquiry.”

If Budd decides that Mr Blunkett acted in good faith, he could yet play a key role in Labour’s general election campaign.

That in turn might put Mr Blunkett in line for a swift return to the ministerial ranks after the poll, expected on May 5.

The Standards and Privileges Committee will issue its report, based on an investigation by parliamentary standards commissioner Sir Philip Mawer, at 11am.

Mr Blunkett has acknowledged giving Mrs Quinn two first-class rail tickets assigned to him for his work as an MP.

MPs’ spouses are entitled to 15 return journeys a year between London and their constituency or home. Unmarried partners do not qualify.

Mr Blunkett has already admitted that he was wrong to give the rail warrant to Mrs Quinn and promised to repay the €261.40 cost. His spokesman said it was “a genuine mistake”.

The committee might require the Sheffield Brightside MP to apologise to the Commons.

Meanwhile the heavily-pregnant Mrs Quinn, publisher of The Spectator magazine, has been engulfed in a second scandal.

Political journalist Simon Hoggart has confessed to being another of the American’s conquests.

His relationship with Mrs Quinn, which straddled her marriage to husband Stephen, also appears to have overlapped with Mr Blunkett’s.

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