Blunkett wins payout over false affair claims

Former Cabinet Minister David Blunkett is set for a libel payout over false allegations surrounding an affair with an estate agent.

The People newspaper apologised yesterday for suggesting Mr Blunkett might have made Sally Anderson pregnant, then abandoned her and lied about it.

In a statement, the MP’s lawyers said both the paper and Ms Anderson had now admitted the allegations were “totally false”.

“Substantial” damages would be paid, they said.

Mr Blunkett said: “Naturally, I’m very pleased to have my honesty and decency vindicated now that this story has been proven to be false.

“I know better than anyone else that I cannot completely undo the damage this publication did to me. I can, however, bit by bit, clear my name.

“Among the many false accusations that were made against me was the widely-reported and persistently reiterated set of lies relating to my private life.

“The impression developed was deeply damaging as well as being hurtful and distressing to me personally.

“I have always accepted that newspapers will, and should, hold Ministers to account for the conduct of their public duties.

“I have always been the first to admit I had made mistakes. But this article told the worst possible lies about my private life without any attempt to establish the truth.

“I also hope this will deter would-be fortune-seekers from making up lies and exploiting public figures for the sole purpose of making money.”

The People apology reads: “Ms Anderson claimed that she had had sex with Mr Blunkett and that when she told him she might be pregnant he abandoned her.

“Ms Anderson also claimed that Mr Blunkett had used her for sex and had offered valuable gifts as an inducement.

“We now accept that these allegations are untrue and that Mr Blunkett did not lie about them.

“We apologise unreservedly to Mr Blunkett for any hurt and distress caused by the publication. We have agreed to pay him damages and his legal costs.”

The Sheffield Brightside MP has twice been forced to quit high-profile roles in Tony Blair’s Cabinet. He revealed this week that he had also now moved out of a grace-and-favour home in Belgravia provided for Ministers. He blamed the delay on having to wait for someone to move out of their flat.