» Tuesday, November 30, 2004

David Blunkett/Alan Budd Review

Asked if the Prime Minister had prejudiced the Budd Review yesterday with his comments about David Blunkett, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) repeated what he had told journalists yesterday which was that there was a distinction between the Prime Minister expressing his confidence and trust in the Home Secretary, and waiting for the outcome of the Budd Review. The Prime Minister is quite content to wait for the final outcome of the review, and his comments were not in any way presetting that outcome. The entire point of Alan Budd undertaking the review was that he was an independent person who would make an independent assessment of the facts.

Asked if Sir Alan Budd has the power to widen his assessment of the case if he found anything further to investigate, the PMOS replied that it was far better to allow Alan Budd to get on with his job, rather than hypothesise about that job.

Asked why the remit was cast in the way it was, the PMOS replied that the media itself had identified this as the most serious allegation. This was what was being investigated, and regarding the other allegations that were made, the Home Office had dealt with them. Both the Home Secretary and the Home Office believed that this was the allegation that needed a closer investigation, which was what was happening now.

Asked if it was normal for civil servants to attend legal meetings about private affairs, the PMOS replied that it depended on the type of meetings, but it was for the Home Office to answer regarding this matter.

Asked if it was an abuse of civil servants’ positions to be attending legal meetings that had to do with a private matter, the PMOS said that it was for the Home Office to handle internal matters.

Asked if the reason that the allegation being investigated was only done so because it seemed like it was the easiest one to exonerate, the PMOS repeated his answer of yesterday which was that each case should be treated individually, and Alan Budd had been charged to look into this case.

Asked to respond to Alaistair Graham’s reservations about the inquiry, the PMOS replied the Government had set out its argument in 2003 against a panel of experts. This was because it was felt that a panel might not have the relevant expertise needed for each specific case, therefore, it was felt that it was better to appoint individuals on a case-by-case basis, as their expertise would be more relevant to the issue. Most people agreed that Sir Alan Budd had the necessary skills and expertise needed for this matter.

Asked what Alan Budd’s skills were in order to deal with the Review, the PMOS said he had knew how the government machine worked, and he knew how and when to ask the relevant questions. In terms of others issues that might arise, different skills would be required. It was horses for courses.

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted it would be right to accept David Blunkett’s resignation if these allegations proved a distraction to him, even if they were proved wrong, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister had spelt out yesterday why he believed that the Home Secretary had demonstrated that he had not been diverted from his main job by these allegations. The Prime Minister believed that David Blunkett had the focus on people’s concerns, and had formed proposals to meet those concerns.

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that David Blunkett would get distracted over his court case regarding a paternity issue, the PMOS said that he thought David Blunkett’s private matters were a matter for him alone. The important thing for the public to concentrate on was the issue that involved them, for example ID cards, and the Home Secretary was continuing to focus on those. He was still a very effective Home Secretary.

Asked again if David Blunkett could get involved in a paternity suit whilst still Home Secretary, the PMOS said he was not going to get involved in legal cases.

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the Daily Telegraph’s recent comments that he had effectively given Ministers a free rein to do whatever they liked, as long as the job got done, the PMOS replied that he was not going to get into hypothetical scenarios, much as he was sure people would like him to. The Prime Minister said that senior Ministers were entitled to a private life, so long as they continued to do their job.

Asked that surely the whole point about the recent allegations surrounding David Blunkett were that they had not remained private, and instead were now very public, the PMOS clarified that he was not aware of how it had become public, but in terms of their public duties, Ministers had their responsibilities which were accountable to Parliament. Their private lives were not.

Asked if hypocrisy was one example which blurred that distinction, the PMOS said he was going to be very careful about using that word, even if it mean biting his own lip very hard.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Didn’t one of the Guinness defendants offer to repay the \xA35m when he was caught? Didn’t he think it was an okay practice? Didn’t he go to jail for theft?

    Is adultery impossible in the PC world? I mean, if your spouse is my spouse where’s the problem?

    Can single people claim married allowances because they are deeply involved with someone else’s wife? All those meals out, shiny gifts and afternoon hotel bills do mount up.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 1 Dec 2004 on 11:08 am | Link
  2. I love that last bit about the PMOS having to bite his own lip very hard.

    Comment by Backword Dave — 1 Dec 2004 on 1:19 pm | Link
  3. Is there some way in which members of the public can communicate, to Sir Alan Budd’s enquiry, matters of fact or logic that may be important? (Of course,and the time of the enquiry should not be wasted on them.)

    My point is purely logical. If what Mrs. Quinn says is partly or wholly true, then she is a wholly untrustworthy witness on matters in dispute with Mr. Blunkett. Here is the reason.

    On her own account, Mrs. Quinn
    (a)Repeatedly obtained personal advantage by asking Mr. Blunkett to act improperly, and then (b)Without admitting either impropriety or a crisis of conscience, now exposes Mr. Blunkett to scandal, for helping her as she herself had asked.

    No person who acts as under (a) repeatedly and without qualms – and then under (b) seeks to harm her helper for acts she had solicited – is trustworthy on any matter concerning her relationship with her helper. Therefore, the truth of her evidence would imply that it cannot be trusted; as in the famous ‘Liar Paradox’ of Epimenides, her evidence is worthless.

    Comment by Michael Lipton — 5 Dec 2004 on 7:27 pm | Link

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