Blunkett's romance a public affair
AN inquiry has been launched into allegations surrounding Home Secretary David Blunkett's affair with the married publisher of the Spectator. Political Editor Graham Dines looks at the backgroundFOR the Home Secretary, his relationship with Kimberley Quinn was meant to bring him happiness.
AN inquiry has been launched into allegations surrounding Home Secretary David Blunkett's affair with the married publisher of the Spectator. Political Editor Graham Dines looks at the background
FOR the Home Secretary, his relationship with Kimberley Quinn was meant to bring him happiness. Long divorced from his wife of 17 years, David Blunkett had found love in an unlikely source – the publisher of Britain's leading right of centre political magazine.
But his three-year-long affair to the married Mrs Quinn, aged 44, has ended in acrimony and a bitter dispute, with the 57-year-old politician claiming he is the father of her two-year-old son and the boy's unborn brother.
The seven months pregnant Mrs Quinn is said by her multi-millionaire husband Stephen to be under "huge strain" and resting at home following her decision to go public on revelations about the relationship.
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Although Mr Quinn has forgiven his wife's infidelity, the affair will now be subjected to fresh scrutiny after Mr Blunkett – the man in charge of the nation's security – requested an independent review of allegations that he misused his position to help his former lover.
The couple met at a dinner party in August 2001, two months after she married Mr Quinn in a register office ceremony in London.
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Mrs Quinn, a brunette, said she had convinced the Labour politician who is blind to contribute to the Spectator by telling him she was tall and blonde.
Mrs Quinn, who is credited with bringing glamour and sex appeal to the stuffy offices of the Spectator, was known to other members of the Cabinet and accustomed to life amongst leading figures in politics.
Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook turned to her to give an interview when his marriage broke up amid revelations about his affair with future wife, secretary Gaynor Regan.
As her relationship with the Home Secretary developed, Mrs Quinn became a regular visitor to his official London home and his cottage in the Peak District of Derbyshire near to his parliamentary constituency of Sheffield Brightside.
The couple, with the woman's young son William, also shared a holiday on the Greek island of Corfu and observers claim that Mr Blunkett hoped they would eventually live as a family.
It betrayed the public image of a man happy to remain single after his divorce from Ruth in 1990 but was, in private, a lonely man.
In defending himself against allegations by Mrs Quinn that he abused his position by intervening in a visa application made by her Filipino nanny Leoncia Casalme, the Home Secretary offered an indication of the depth of his feelings.
He said: "I am very saddened that someone I cared so deeply for should seek, quite erroneously, to damage my public position."
The affair became public in newspapers in August, but is said to have ended this summer, with the then newly pregnant Mrs Quinn deciding to return to her husband.
With Fleet Street on the scent, and the affair threatening to engulf his ministerial career, Mr Blunkett flew to Italy to interrupt the Prime Minister's holiday to discuss the implications for his future in the Government.
Mr Blair told him it was a personal matter – a view he reiterated yesterday when he defended his Home Secretary and his record as Home Secretary.
When asked what principles he applied when deciding on his ministers' behaviour, he said it was to do with the performance of a politician's public duty. "Politicians are entitled to private lives the same as anyone else."
"He has done a fine job as Home Secretary and I have every confidence in him and whatever the difficulties of his private life, those are part of his private life."
The Tories said they would be failing in their duty as an opposition if they did not highlight some of the allegations against the Home Secretary, who ranks joint third in the political hierarchy alongside Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and behind the Prime Minister and his deputy John Prescott.
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis wants investigations into the alleged include divulging of secret information in "pillow talk"' with Mrs Quinn, giving her a free MP's rail ticket, ordering his Government chauffeur to drive her between London and his Derbyshire home, stationing a policeman outside her Mayfair home during a May Day riot, and taking her to Spain accompanied by bodyguards at taxpayers' expense.
Mr Blunkett, who denies any impropriety, is understood to have hired lawyers to contest the paternity of both William and Mrs Quinn's unborn baby.
This legal dispute and the review of Mr Blunkett's alleged misuse of his position will ensure that the deeply private politician will find his personal life the subject of continuing public debate.