Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett accepted a “substantial” pay-off in a secret deal after his mobile phone was hacked by the News of the World, it was reported yesterday.
Blunkett came to the agreement in May, soon after News International reached a similar agreement with actress Sienna Miller, for the hacking of his phone when he was at the Home Office between 2001 and 2004, according to The Independent on Sunday.
Blunkett resigned as home secretary after the News of the World revealed he was having an affair with a married woman, Kimberly Fortier, and suggestions emerged that he had used his position to speed up a visa application for her nanny.
A spokeswoman for Blunkett said: “Mr Blunkett was the subject of intrusion into his private life throughout 2004/5 and gross damage to his family and immediate friends.
“Since then he’s endeavoured to protect his private life as he was the victim not the perpetrator of such intrusion.
“He is certainly not going to start now allowing some mischief maker to start another round of harassment and intrusion.
“Protecting his private life and those he cares about involves not answering questions which are entirely his business and which have no bearing on any other individuals.
“Any relationship to what happened in 2004/5 is a matter for the police investigation and of course everyone with anything to contribute is expected to provide maximum co-operation.
“Mr Blunkett has commented on matters relating to the ongoing inquiries but at no time about himself or his family, and he does not intend to do so now.”
News International declined to comment.
Labour MP Tom Watson told the Independent on Sunday: “If true, it is extremely disappointing that David Blunkett, as both an MP and a former home secretary, would choose to do a secret deal rather than give comfort to victims who don’t have his power to come forward at the time Parliament was chipping away at this scandal.
“His testimony would have been helpful in shedding light on the company’s attempts to keep the lid on it all. Rather than fulfilling a public duty to speak out, it makes you wonder why he would do it like this. I would definitely like to know when Mr Blunkett was aware that he might have been a victim of hacking as his evidence would have been very useful.”