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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 14:58 GMT
Blunkett responds to two inquiries
Here is the full text of David Blunkett's response to Sir Alan Budd's report into his conduct:

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Sir Alan Budd and those working with him for the detailed and thorough job they have done investigating the allegations that I misused my official position regarding Miss Leoncia Casalme's application for indefinite leave to remain.

Within hours of the allegation being made about the leave to remain of Miss Casalme, I indicated that I wanted an independent review to be established.

I did so purely because I wanted to get to the truth.

I wanted to get to the truth so that I could take responsibility for my actions and ensure public confidence in both my integrity and that of the officials who work with me.

Sir Alan Budd has ensured that any accusations of a whitewash or cover up cannot be made.

I am grateful to him for that.

I want to make it clear that I fully accept the findings of Sir Alan's report, where his findings differ from my recollections this is simply due to failure on my part to recall details.

What I uniquely failed to remember was that Kimberly Quinn had given me a print copy of a letter concerning the progress of Miss Casalme's application having already discussed it with me sometime earlier.

Where print material is handed to me I forward it (as on this occasion) with other overnight work completed on tape.

All this work would have been dealt with as a matter of routine.

Whilst the original allegation concerned the application form it was in fact this letter which triggered subsequent actions within the system.

I had as I made clear when this came to public attention a full recollection of the fact that an application form had been discussed with me.

I also had a clear recollection of the content of the letter and that it was authentic.

As I indicated at the time, and repeated to Sir Alan Budd in my first interview, it highlighted wider policy implications, mainly that if delays of this kind were taking place universally we would fail to fulfil our commitment to reduce the backlog of applications subsequently.

This in turn would adversely affect the preparations for the introduction of a new charging system intended to yield tens of millions of pounds in substituting fees for investment from the tax payer.

With hindsight I should have been explicit in separating the particular example I was using and the broader policy which required addressing.

I had raised the issue and made no bones about the fact that this was on the back of information that Kimberly Quinn had given me.

I had done so not just in terms of the backlog exercise but also in terms of the length of time applicants' passports were being held.

I had raised this on a number of previous occasions as being a real problem.

Here is David Blunkett's full response to Sir Philip Mawer's rail ticket probe:

I have apologised unreservedly for the use of the spouse travel voucher, which I have refunded.

I believe it was the right thing to do to be open and honest about the event even though the investigation has found that no misdemeanour would otherwise have been identified .

It was a genuine mistake and I am grateful to the committee for their understanding.




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