Damian Green: The rise and fall of Theresa May's closest political ally

PM's deputy leaves Government after inquiry finds he breached ministerial code

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 20 December 2017 23:52
Damian Green sacked as First Secretary of State amid computer porn allegations

Almost a decade ago, the then-Shadow immigration minister Damian Green found himself in the custody of the Metropolitan Police for nine hours while officers raided his home and parliamentary offices.

He was the subject of an investigation by the force over leaked official documents from the Home Office that had embarrassed Gordon Brown’s government.

The then-assistant Met Commissioner Bob Quick had ordered his arrest on suspicion of “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office” and “aiding and abetting misconduct”. Officers claimed to have found pornographic material on Mr Green’s parliamentary office, but it was not reported at the time.

But he was cleared a year later by Keir Starmer, who was then director of public prosecutions, who claimed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Green as national security was not put at risk.

Mr Green then held low-level ministerial jobs in David Cameron’s administration until 2014 when he was unexpectedly sacked, and entered a period of political wilderness on the Conservative backbenches.

Three years later, however, he was brought in from the cold when, with Theresa May as Prime Minister, he was made Work and Pensions Secretary.

In the immediate days after Ms May’s failed election gamble, Mr Green was promoted again – this time to First Secretary of State and de facto deputy Prime Minister.

Responsible for standing in for his Oxford University colleague at Prime Minister’s Questions, and brokering the crucial deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) behind the scenes in the tumultuous days following the inconclusive election result, his return to prominence was indeed remarkable.

The pair were friends from Oxford University 

But several months later allegations appeared from a Conservative activist and journalist Kate Maltby, who is almost 30 years younger than Mr Green. The pair had met at a bar in Waterloo and she alleged that she “felt a fleeting hand against my knee”.

A year later, in 2016, Ms Maltby claimed to have received a text from Mr Green, who is also an old acquaintance of her parents.

“Long time no see,” she claimed it read. “But having admired you in a corset in my favourite tabloid I feel impelled to ask if you are free for a drink anytime?”. Mr Green denied any advances and said the allegation came as a "complete shock" and was "deeply hurtful".

Ms Maltby made her allegations public in an article for The Times in November 2017, amid the claims of sexual harassment in Westminster in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The Prime Minister was then forced to launch a Cabinet Office investigation into the actions and behaviour of her most important political ally.

But as the investigation opened, other incendiary claims appeared in The Sunday Times and on the BBC. Two former Metropolitan Police officers alleged they had found pornography on Mr Green’s parliamentary computer during the 2008 raid on his office. The first was from Bob Quick. The second was from Neil Lewis, a former detective, who claimed Mr Green’s computer had contained “thousands” of pornographic material. The Cabinet Office then widened its investigation.

The conclusions of the Cabinet Office inquiry – publicly released just after 8.30pm on the penultimate day of Parliament before the Christmas recess – found Ms Maltby’s account to be “plausible”, but that it was not possible to reach a definitive conclusion on the appropriateness of Mr Green’s behaviour.

Crucially, the Cabinet Office inquiry added that statements made by the First Secretary of State regarding allegations of indecent material found on his parliamentary computer almost a decade ago were “inaccurate and misleading”.

“The Metropolitan Police Service had previously informed him of the existence of this material. These statements therefore fall short of the honesty requirement of the Seven Principles of Public Life and constitute breaches of the Ministerial Code,” the report added. "Mr Green accepts this.”

In an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and Green on 20 December, Ms May accepted the resignation from her lifelong friend and a crucial figure of her praetorian guard in Government.

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