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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick