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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 19:38 GMT
In full: Blunkett interview
Home Secretary David Blunkett explained to BBC political editor Andrew Marr why he had resigned as home secretary. Here is the full interview.

Andrew Marr: Mr Blunkett, why have you resigned?

David Blunkett: Because the thousands of people who wrote to me, who rang me and who e-mailed me believed in my honesty and integrity and that above all is critical, not just for me but for the government and for the integrity of Tony Blair, who has backed me to the hilt.

Marr: Did you simply not remember the faxes and e-mails which have come to light?

Blunkett: Well, the difficulty is that we were accused of fast-tracking the application form and I think everyone will find that Sir Alan Budd will conclude that we didn't.

But we didn't have a recollection, I don't just mean me but throughout the system, of the letter that actually I knew about and I had raised with the department actually being put into the system.

And the system then spewed it out. The system in the end did fast track that particular application, along with many others.

An e-mail was sent back which we were not aware of by the deputy general secretary's office which actually said no favours but slightly quicker.

Once I had found that out yesterday I realised that I had to resign.

Marr: No favours but slightly quicker. Do you think you did anything wrong?

Blunkett: No I do not and if I did I would say so.

I have built my reputation on honesty, I have sometimes been too honest.

I just know that it is important that no one in this department is blamed, that people did what they thought was right.

I had made it clear that 12 month delays were totally unacceptable in the run up to charging people 155 for the renewal of their leave to remain [in the UK].

I had made it clear that the backlog exercise that was taking place at the time was absolutely crucial to the effectiveness and to the efficiency of the department.

So when I heard about the 12 months [wait for his ex-lover's nanny's application to be processed], I took action.

What I hadn't realised is that I had put the letter into the system and the system had done the job.

Marr: What has been the emotional impact of the last few weeks?

Blunkett: Firstly, I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have wished me well and I would like to thank them for it.

I mean from the tremendous support of the prime minister my friend, my sons, my family, people who I have never known who have been in touch.

And I owe it them that I actually am honest and open and that I get out of the situation that I am in and I rebuild.

Secondly, a realisation that I'd come to three months ago actually which was that if I was ever going to see my youngest son again, if I was ever going to hold him as I did as a baby in my arms, there were going to be consequences.

I hadn't fully grasped the enormity of those consequences.

But in time people will understand what I've been through, what I am prepared to go through, what I am prepared to sacrifice, along with my three older sons, for that little boy.

Marr: Are you absolutely sure and determined that you will get the access to that child that you believe you deserve?

Well, I tried very hard for two months to get just informal contact of any sort.

I am now taking the steps I have to through the court and I'm keeping quiet about them. I didn't ever raise this.

I didn't in August initiate the terrible trauma of my relationship coming to the fore. I didn't in late November start the plethora of linking my private life with public events again.

I'm mortified that that was done and I am very sorry. I'm not even angry, I'm just terribly hurt and I want people to know that in my public life I have always tried to help people.

I have in my public life I have always tried to help people. I have never tried to fiddle my role as leader of the city of Sheffield, as an MP or as a minister, but I've always tried to help people and there are thousands of people out there who know that's true.

Marr: You were brought down by the anger of somebody you loved. Do you think you were abused?

Blunkett: No, I think that I misunderstood. I misunderstood what we had, I misunderstood that someone could do this not just to me but to the little one as well, because there will be years to come.

So the anguish of the weeks I have just had - and they have been the worst of my life - and the disappointment and sometimes I think probably the depression of the months to come are absolutely nothing compared with the joy of being able to grow and work alongside, along with my older sons, that little lad.

I have to say something else as well, Andrew. Throughout this, my ex-wife has been absolutely superb. She was offered 50,000 by a Sunday newspaper in writing to tell the dirt on the break-up of our marriage and she turned it down.

And I am proud to have friends like that, even those I have broken up with and I'm a very lucky man.

Marr: Others have come back, do you think one day you will too?

Blunkett: That is entirely dependent on what I do, how I handle myself, what people believe of me.

Some people have called me arrogant over the last day or two and yes I am.

But I believe in making a difference to people's lives and in the 30 odd years I have been in formal politics I think I have contributed, along with colleagues, to changing the world and I'm going to carry on trying to do that.

Marr: David Blunkett, thank you very much.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
David Blunkett explains why he resigned



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