Murdoch’s £5k a day for Blunkett

David Blunkett MP
David Blunkett MP
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SHEFFIELD MP David Blunkett was on a contract worth £5,000 a day with News International as an advisor on a social responsibility project - which finished at the end of June when the News of the World phone hacking scandal intensified.

The Labour politician, who represents Brightside and Hillsborough, was paid £25,000 for the six-month appointment but said he had only worked five days on the project, run by Rupert Murdoch’s company to help deprived youngsters.

Details of Mr Blunkett’s appointment are detailed in the House of Commons register of members’ interests.

It also shows Rotherham MP Denis MacShane received £20,000 from news organisations, while payments from Sky, the BBC and News International were made to Don Valley Labour MP Caroline Flint.

Mr Blunkett’s entry details the position as an ‘advisory post for corporate social responsibility (volunteering and education)’.

The Brightside and Hillsborough MP has also revealed he is paid up to £5,000 a year by News International for occasional columns in The Times newspaper.

Mr Blunkett’s payments from the media over the last year included £33,000 since last November for articles in the Daily Mail, £1,200 from Johnston Press, owner of The Star, for columns in the Yorkshire Post since June 2010 and £1,000 from Mirror Group.

News International appointed Mr Blunkett to help on its Fairbridge project, which has now become part of the Pince’s Trust.

The scheme works with young people aged 13-25, many of whom suffer homelessness, substance misuse or a history of offending and gives them the ‘motivation, self-confidence and skills they need to change their lives’.

Mr Blunkett said: “I have spent about five days with Fairbridge since being appointed in January, during which I have met with young people on its projects around the country.

“I have been invited to address News International staff in London and Manchester.”

Fairbridge has 15 centres around the UK. The nearest to Sheffield is in Manchester.

It says that over the last 12 months, 85 per cent of its clients went back to school, started a college course, got a qualification, found a job or chose to remain in the programme to continue their development.

Mr Blunkett defended his work writing newspaper columns, which used to include a regular piece in Mr Murdoch’s Sun until the paper switched allegiance to the Tories in 2009. He has never written for the News of the World.

He said: “I was a victim of phone hacking, though not in the same terms as those such as murder victim Milly Dowler, who suffered worst from the News of the World’s intrusion. But I have to distinguish between what some journalists did on one publication and the business of putting my opinion across and getting the facts to the public.

“What the register can never show is what the money is used for: in my case substantially funding my own running costs in addition to Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority payments.”

Rotherham MP Denis MacShane, a member of the National Union of Journalists, received £20,000 over the last year: £5,000 each from News International, the Scott Trust, publisher of The Guardian, and from The Independent and Newsweek. He received £120 for an article in Catholic newspaper The Tablet.

Don Valley MP and Labour shadow cabinet member Caroline Flint received £100 for an appearance on Sky TV, which is part-owned by Murdoch, plus an undisclosed sum for appearing on the BBC, both of which have been donated to Don Valley Labour Party.

She declared a £300 payment from News International for an article in The Times.