Damian Green says computer porn allegations are ‘political smears’

Damian Green.
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Damian Green said the allegations were from a “tainted and untrustworthy source”

Theresa May’s most senior minister has denied a claim that police found pornography on his computer during a raid on his Westminster office in 2008.

First Secretary of State Damian Green said ex-police chief Bob Quick’s claims in the Sunday Times were “completely untrue” and “political smears”.

And he said police had never told him that any improper material had been found on his parliamentary computer.

Mr Quick said he “stood” by the claim and would take part in an inquiry.

The revelations are the latest in a growing sexual misconduct scandal in Westminster.

‘Humiliated’

On Sunday, further details emerged about allegations against Sir Michael Fallon, who this week resigned as defence secretary over his behaviour.

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  • Crabb investigated over lewd text claim

The Observer reported that he quit shortly after journalist Jane Merrick told Downing Street he had lunged at her and attempted to kiss her on the lips in 2003 after they had lunch together.

And Tory MP Daniel Poulter, who represents Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has been referred to the Conservative Party disciplinary committee after allegations in the Sunday Times, which he has denied in full.

The allegation regarding Mr Green, who is effectively the prime minister’s deputy, relates to an inquiry into Home Office leaks which briefly led to his arrest in 2008.

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PA

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Bob Quick led the investigation into Home Office leaks which saw Mr Green’s office being searched

Former Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick said on Sunday that his officers had found pornographic material on Mr Green’s computer in his Commons office after they searched it as part of their controversial investigation – which resulted in no charges.

The ex-anti-terror chief said he had made an appointment to speak to a senior official in the Cabinet Office, which last week launched an inquiry into an unrelated allegation against Mr Green, to discuss the matter.

“I bear no malice to Damian Green,” he told BBC News.

Mr Quick, who quit his role in 2009 after inadvertently revealing secret documents, accepted he had not asked officers to report the matter at the time, saying they “didn’t expect to find the material” and were in the midst of a “very difficult inquiry with a lot of pressure to drop the case”.

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Media captionAndrew Marr asked Home Secretary Amber Rudd whether the centre of government was close to collapse

But Mr Green said: “The allegations about the material and computer, now nine years old, are false, disreputable political smears from a discredited police officer acting in flagrant breach of his duty to keep the details of police investigations confidential, and amount to little more than an unscrupulous character assassination.”

The Cabinet Office inquiry was triggered after journalist Kate Maltby, who is three decades younger than Mr Green, told the Times he “fleetingly” touched her knee during a meeting in a pub in 2015 and a year later sent her a “suggestive” text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in the newspaper.

Mr Green said any allegation that he made sexual advances to Ms Maltby was “untrue (and) deeply hurtful”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC it was right all allegations were investigated but she said her cabinet colleague had the right to defend himself and she noted the “strong statements” he had made.

“I do think that we shouldn’t rush to allege anything until that inquiry has taken place,” she told Andrew Marr.

More generally, she said abuse of power could not be tolerated and there needed to be a “clearing out” of Westminster to get rid of any such behaviour.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Anna Soubry has said former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon was “responsible for his own downfall” amid fresh claims about his past behaviour.

Ms Merrick, who was a 29-year-old reporter at the Daily Mail at the time, told the Observer she “shrank away in horror” when Sir Michael tried to kiss her before returning to her office in the press gallery.

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Media captionJane Merrick “outstandingly brave” for speaking out about Sir Michael Fallon – Conservative MP Anna Soubry

“I felt humiliated, ashamed. Was I even guilty that maybe I had led him on in some way by drinking with him?” she said. “After years of having a drink with so many other MPs who have not acted inappropriately towards me, I now know I was not.”

Friends of Sir Michael have not denied the allegation, but the BBC understands that his ministerial career ended because he could not guarantee there would be no further revelations after he admitted repeatedly touching another journalist’s knee at a conference dinner 15 years ago.

Ms Soubry praised the journalist’s “outstanding bravery” in coming forward and said she had put her in touch with Downing Street after Ms Merrick had confided in her and Labour’s Harriet Harman.

Theresa May, she added, must ensure an independent complaints system immediately so victims of harassment and those accused of misconduct did not have to undergo “trial by newspapers”.

“People must have a system where they don’t have to go to the press or happen to find some MP’s phone number who they know will take these matters seriously,” she told Andrew Marr.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said this must be a “turning point” for how the whole political class behaves, telling activists that his party – under fire for how it has handled harassment and rape allegations – was not afraid to “shine a spotlight” on itself.

“We must say, no more. We must no longer allow women, or anyone else for that matter, to be abused in the workplace or anywhere else,” he said.

Which other politicians are being investigated?

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UK Parliament

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From left, Charlie Elphicke, Kelvin Hopkins, and Mark Garnier

Conservatives

  • MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke has been suspended by his party after “serious allegations” against him were referred to the police. He denies any wrongdoing.
  • International trade minister Mark Garnier is being investigated for a potential breach of ministerial rules after he admitted asking his secretary to buy sex toys. The MP for Wyre Forest also confirmed he called her “sugar tits”, but said it did not amount to harassment.
  • Daniel Poulter, who represents Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has been referred to the Conservative Party disciplinary committee after allegations in the Sunday Times. He said he “denied all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour and will vigorously defend himself against any such claims”.

Labour

  • A formal complaint has been made against Norwich South MP Clive Lewis by a woman who says he groped her at the party’s annual conference. The former shadow defence secretary is alleged to have hugged her and squeezed her bottom.
  • Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins, 76, has been suspended after Labour activist Ava Etemadzadeh, 27, said he sent her inappropriate text messages and made inappropriate physical contact. He says he “absolutely and categorically” denies the claims.
  • An independent investigation is also under way after Labour activist Bex Bailey told the BBC she was raped at a party event, aged 19, and discouraged from reporting the attack by a senior official.
  • Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon has said she was sexually assaulted by a senior member of the party
  • Carl Sargeant quit as secretary for communities and children in the Welsh government after allegations about his conduct. He has urged a full inquiry to “clear his name”.

SNP

  • Mark McDonald MSP has quit as childcare and early years minister over previous actions which he said were considered “inappropriate”. He is being investigated by the SNP for possible misconduct. It is understood the allegations are not criminal in nature.

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