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Probe ordered against Blunkett

By Hasan Suroor

LONDON: An independent inquiry has been ordered into the allegation that the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, abused his official position to "fast-track'' the visa application of his former mistress, Kimberley Quinn's nanny. The inquiry was announced amid speculation that Mr. Blunkett's job might be on the line, but the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, strongly defended him describing him as a "first class Home Secretary.'' Scotching rumours about Mr. Blunkett's future, he declared: "He is doing the job and will continue to do his job with my full support''. He said politicians were entitled to their private lives as anybody else, and he was confident that the inquiry would clear him of any wrongdoing. Mr. Blunkett, earlier, asked the permanent secretary in the Home Office to appoint an independent investigator to examine claims, reportedly made by Ms. Quinn, that he helped her Filipino nanny, Leoncia Casalme, to get permanent British residency last year. He denied the allegation saying that he had simply checked the visa application to see if it was correctly filled. In a statement, he said that he had decided of his "own volition to request an independent review.''

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