The police officer leading the Whitehall leaks inquiry has accused the Tories of endangering his family's safety by leaking information about his wife's wedding-car hire business.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick claimed he had fallen victim to dirty tricks in an attempt to sabotage the investigation that led to the arrest of Tory front-bencher Damian Green.
But the Conservatives flatly denied the allegation and cast doubt on his fitness to continue as head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism squad.
Mr Quick provoked the bad-tempered clash with the Opposition after the Mail on Sunday disclosed the business – promoted on the internet with pictures of luxury cars available for hire with chauffeurs – was run from the couple's home.
He launched an extraordinary tirade against the Conservatives yesterday, alleging they were responsible for planting the story. He said he had been forced to move his family to a new address as the report could help identify where they lived.
Mr Quick claimed the "Tory machinery and their press friends" were opposing the investigation into Mr Green "in a wholly corrupt way".
He added: "It is a very spiteful act, possibly to intimidate me away from investigating Mr Green, and I feel it has put my family at risk."
The Conservatives said the claims were "absurd and wholly untrue" and said they knew nothing about the publication of the story. They also hinted he was motivated by sympathy for Labour.
A spokesman said: "As the officer leading the inquiry into the allegations involving Damian Green, Assistant Commissioner Quick should display objective professionalism and not make baseless, political attacks."
As the Tories indicated they were prepared to take legal action over his comments, Mr Quick later issued a partial apology but made clear he stood by the majority of his outburst.
"I regret and wish to retract my comment regarding corruption," he said. "The comment was made as I was in the act of having to move my family out of our home to a place of safety following the article in today's Mail on Sunday."
The police faced widespread accusations of abusing their powers last month after Mr Quick approved the arrest of Mr Green and the raid on his Commons office over his links with a Home Office mole.
Scotland Yard is expected to abandon its investigation after a critical internal report questioned whether its officers had acted proportionately.
Mr Quick said there had been a series of "entirely untrue" allegations about his investigation in the media and he would consult his solicitor today about taking further action.
Tension has been simmering between Mr Quick and the Conservative hierarchy since Mr Green was questioned for nine hours over his links with a Home Office official suspected of leaking material embarrassing to the Government.
They have previously suggested that he and the former Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, had allowed themselves to become too close to Labour by making the case for the 42-day detention of terrorist suspects.
Mr Quick, the former Chief Constable of Surrey Police, has applied for the vacant post of Met Commissioner, but has not reached the short-list of four.
According to yesterday's report, his wife, Judith, maintains a fleet of classic cars for hire for weddings with former police officers behind the wheel. They are also offered for race meetings, corporate functions and theatre trips.Reuse content