Cameron aide held over 'child abuse images' also faced 'inappropriate behaviour' complaint

 

Deputy Political Editor

An adviser to David Cameron arrested over allegations of child abuse images had also been accused of harassing a Downing Street colleague, Number 10 has confirmed.

Patrick Rock, who had been involved in drawing up proposals for internet porn filters, resigned hours before being detained by police officers on 13 February.

The episode has dismayed Downing Street as Mr Rock, who was deputy head of its policy unit, was among the Prime Minister’s longest-standing political friends.

Mr Cameron spoke of his “profound shock” at discovering the allegations against his adviser and also defended his handling of the incident.

The 19-day delay in confirming the police investigation, Mr Rock’s resignation and a search of Downing Street computers by detectives has led to accusations of a cover-up by the Government.

The 62-year-old adviser had also been the subject of a harassment complaint from a civil servant, it emerged.

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman confirmed a “complaint around alleged inappropriate behaviour” was passed to Ed Llewellyn, the Prime Minister’s chief  of staff.

He said it was dealt with “very seriously at senior levels” in accordance with the Cabinet Office human resources policy and resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction. Mr Cameron was kept fully informed of the  incident.

He refused to go into further details, but added: “The harassment case is in no way related to the arrest.”

Mr Rock, 62, who worked for the Thatcher and Major governments, got to know Mr Cameron in the mid-1990s when they both worked for Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary.

The Prime Minister brought him into Downing Street in 2011 to work in the Number 10 policy unit. He took responsibility for home affairs issues and was among officials working on proposals for toughening controls on internet images of child abuse.

The policy was being drawn up after Mr Cameron challenged internet service providers to install family-friendly filters on home computers.

Downing Street has said it was made aware of a “potential offence relating to child abuse imagery” on 12 February and immediately alerted the National Crime Agency, which handles major  investigations into child pornography.

It was not clear why the agency, rather than the Metropolitan Police, was called in.

Mr Rock was arrested at his home in west London early the following day. He has not been charged.

Later, detectives working on the case were given full access to Downing Street computer systems and offices which he might have used.

The Prime Minister said: “Obviously when I heard these allegations, I was profoundly shocked and remain profoundly shocked today.”

Defending the delay in releasing information about the arrest, he said: “I don’t think it would be right to pre-emptively brief out a criminal investigation and that’s why we did not do that.

“But as soon as questions were asked, as questions would inevitably be asked, we have given very full and straight-forward answers, which is absolutely the right way to answer this.”

The Labour MP John Mann condemned a “lack of transparency” over the case.

He said: “It is highly inappropriate that a major figure should cease to be responsible for these policy areas without MPs and the public being made aware.”

The former Labour minister Tom Watson said: “There is a duty of care to Mr Rock, who has not been charged with anything as of today, yet I do think it is not unreasonable for Downing Street to explain why he resigned hours before the police appear to have acted.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “This is an on-going investigation so it would not be appropriate to comment further.

“But the Prime Minister believes that child abuse imagery is abhorrent and that anyone involved with it should be properly dealt with under the law.”

Profile: Patrick Rock

Patrick Rock’s involvement with the Conservative party at the most senior levels dates back to the 1970s.

Born of aristocratic stock, he went to work as Margaret Thatcher’s correspondence secretary after graduating from Oxford University.

He stood several times for Parliament and even lost the previously safe Tory seat of Portsmouth South after a  disastrous by-election  campaign in 1984.

Afterwards he received a personal telephone call from the Prime Minister to reassure him it was not his fault.

Although he never achieved his ambition of becoming an MP, he arguably wielded far more influence in a series of backroom jobs.

In the 1990s he worked as special adviser to Cabinet Ministers Chris Patten and Michael Howard. In the latter job he encountered David Cameron and formed a strong bond with the ambitious young Tory.

Mr Rock built a strong  rapport with journalists and was widely regarded as one of the most effective operators in John Major’s doomed government.

Mr Cameron brought him back into Downing Street three years ago and until last month Mr Rock appeared to be heading for a peerage.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britain's internet habits have been revealed in a new survey
tech
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style