Damian Green sacked: Police officers face prosecution for revealing pornography found on parliamentary computers

Bob Quick and Neil Lewis gave the media details from a 2008 investigation in the Houses of Parliament 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 21 December 2017 14:14 GMT
The Prime Minister asked the former First Secretary of State to resign
The Prime Minister asked the former First Secretary of State to resign (PA)

Two police officers who revealed details of pornography found on computers inside Damian Green’s parliamentary office could be prosecuted over their leaks to the media.

Bob Quick, former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told the media “extreme” material was found in a 2008 investigation into unrelated Home Office leaks.

Neil Lewis, who was a detective constable in the force, later said he was “shocked” to find thousands of legal pornographic images on Mr Green’s computer that indicated prolific web browsing.

Mr Green denied the claims and alleged they were biased, but was forced to resign on Wednesday night over his “inaccurate and misleading” statements on the scandal.

Scotland Yard said the officers had been referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over the disclosure of “confidential material gathered during a police investigation”.

A spokesperson said legal advice had been sought over how best to take action against Mr Quick and Mr Lewis nine years after the original probe.

“It was determined that the most appropriate course of action was to make a referral to the ICO to carry out a further investigation in relation to potential Data Protection Act offences,” he added.

Damian Green sacked as First Secretary of State amid computer porn allegations

“The Met is clear that confidential information gathered during any police inquiry should remain confidential. That is an enduring confidentiality regardless of whether an officer leaves the service.”

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, confirmed the authority would be investigating under its powers to enforce data protection.

“We will be looking at whether individuals acted unlawfully by retaining or disclosing personal data,” she added.

“These are serious allegations and we are investigating to determine whether the law has been broken and what further action is necessary including potential criminal prosecution.”

Mr Green continues to deny downloading or viewing pornography himself but was sacked for breaching the ministerial code by making “inaccurate and misleading statements” as the scandal broke in early November.

The First Secretary of State and Cabinet Office minister said he “should have been clear” admitting that police contacted his lawyers on the matter in 2008 and called him personally in 2013.

In his resignation later, he said he was distressed by “unfounded and deeply hurtful allegations”, adding: “It is right that these are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police’s professional standards department.”

Bob Quick resigned as Britain’s most senior counter-terror officer in 2009 after making an unrelated security blunder that endangered an operation against an al-Qaeda cell
Bob Quick resigned as Britain’s most senior counter-terror officer in 2009 after making an unrelated security blunder that endangered an operation against an al-Qaeda cell

Theresa May said she expects the leaks to be “properly investigated”.

Speaking during a visit to Poland, the Prime Minister said she shared concerns about the way details of a 2008 police inquiry into Home Office leaks had entered the public domain.

“I share the concerns that have been raised across the political spectrum about comments that were made by a former police officer and I expect that issue to be properly investigated, to be taken seriously and to be properly looked at,” she added.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick previously said it was “quite wrong” for Mr Quick and Mr Lewis to reveal information from an investigation.

“If offences have been disclosed and that can be proved, it would be a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service, but there could be a prosecution,” Ms Dick said earlier this month.

Appearing before the London Assembly on Thursday, she said the ICO was the right body to carry forward the investigation into their actions.

The Cabinet Secretary’s inquiry was initially launched after Kate Maltby, a Conservative activist and journalist 30 years Mr Green’s junior, complained he had made inappropriate advances.

Mr Green said he did not recognise her account of events but apologised for making her “feel uncomfortable”, while the inquiry found her claims unproven but plausible.

Conservative MPs remain angry at the way confidential information gathered in the course of a police investigation was leaked to damage Mr Green.

The ICO investigation comes amid a separate scandal over the Metropolitan Police’s failure to disclose key evidence in two rape cases, causing them to collapse.

The force has suspended around 30 investigations by its Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command and suspended one officer from active duty amid probes into what went wrong.

Judges threw out unrelated rape prosecutions against Liam Allan and Isaac Itiary in the space of one week, with both men acquitted after the discovery of evidence that should have stopped them ending up in court.

Police had downloaded the contents of complainants’ phones but failed to pass on the information they contained to the prosecution or defence, claiming thousands of messages were irrelevant.

The cases have sparked warnings over a “crisis in the system” of disclosure spanning all crimes across the country, amid allegations over stretched resources, a lack of basic training and potential bias among police officers.

Ms May’s cabinet has also suffered a barrage of embarrassments. Mr Green’s sacking follows the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon as defence secretary, amid Westminster sleaze allegations, and international development secretary Priti Patel over undisclosed meetings in Israel.

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