POLITICS
21/12/2017 7:57 AM AEDT | Updated 21/12/2017 8:02 PM AEDT

British Politician Forced To Resign Over Harassment, Porn Allegations

Pornography was found on his work computer.

Theresa May’s deputy Damian Green has been forced to quit the Cabinet after an inquiry concluded he had lied about pornography on his computer and found ‘plausible’ evidence he had sexually harassed a young activist.

Green was effectively sacked by the Prime Minister after a Cabinet Office probe concluded that he had breached the ministerial code of conduct.

The investigation decided that claims by Tory activist Kate Maltby, who had accused 61-year-old Green of touching her knee and sending inappropriate texts, were “plausible”.

It also found that the First Minister of State had also made ‘inaccurate and misleading’ statements about the existence of porn on a computer seized from his Commons office by police in 2008.

The resignation is the third from the Cabinet in just a matter of weeks following the departures of Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, over sex harassment, and International Development Secretary Priti Patel over undeclared links to Israel.

Government sources told HuffPost UK that the PM would not expect to replace him until the New Year. 

It is possible that May will decide to give the title of First Secretary of State to another senior minister, such as Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Green’s other job, as Minister for the Cabinet Office, could be handed to a rising star who wants to break into the Cabinet for the first time.

BBC
Kate Maltby (fourth from left) on BBC's Question Time.

Green, who was the First Secretary of State and deputised for May in Prime Minister’s Question time, has for weeks vehemently denied he had done anything wrong.

But the Cabinet Office inquiry report, written by Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, found that he had misled the public and the PM about the computer porn allegations.

“Mr Green’s statements of 4 and 11 November, which suggested that he was not aware that indecent material was found on parliamentary computers in his office, were inaccurate and misleading, as the Metropolitan Police Service had previously informed him of the existence of this material,” it said.

“These statements therefore fall short of the honesty requirement of the Seven Principles of Public Life and constitute breaches of the Ministerial Code. Mr Green accepts this.”

The inquiry, led by Cabinet Office ‘Propriety and Ethics’ chief Sue Gray, also found that Maltby’s account of misconduct could not be discounted.

In an article published in The Times last month, the 31-year-old activist alleged that Green had made an unwanted advance towards her in 2015 and suggested that this might further her career.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
Damian Green denied the allegations.

She claimed that during a meeting in a bar, Green had put “a fleeting hand against my knee - so brief, it was almost deniable”. He had also told her that his wife was “very understanding”.

Green was also accused of sending Maltby a text message after she appeared in a corset in a newspaper. “Having admired you in a corset in my favourite tabloid I feel impelled to ask if you are free for a drink anytime?” he texted.

The Cabinet Office inquiry said that “with competing and contradictory accounts” it was “not possible to reach a definitive conclusion on the appropriateness of Mr Green’s behaviour with Kate Maltby in early 2015″.

But it added the crucial line “the investigation found Ms Maltby’s account to be plausible”. 

The breaches of the rules were confirmed by the official adviser on the ministerial code, former intelligence chief Sir Alex Allen.

No10
No10
May's letter to Green.

In his resignation letter, Green still insisted that he had not downloaded or viewed porn on his office computer, but admitted he had been made aware of its existence in 2008 and 2013 and had therefore made ‘misleading’ statements on the issue.

Referring to the separate claims of harassment, the minister said he still did not ‘recognise’ Maltby’s version of events, “but I clearly made her uncomfortable, and for this I apologise”. 

He said he said “I regret that I’ve been asked to resign” but stressed he apologised for breaching the ministerial code.

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Green's resignation letter.

In her letter to him, May stressed that Green had admitted making Maltby ‘uncomfortable’ even though he still denied the substance of her allegations.

Making clear she had effectively sacked him, the PM ended by saying “I asked you to resign from the Government and have accepted your resignation”.

Maltby, who is half Green’s age, was the daughter of the minister’s family friends.

Her parents, Colin and Victoria Maltby, said in a statement they were not surprised to find that the inquiry found Mr Green to have been “untruthful as a minister, nor to that they found our daughter to be a plausible witness”.

“We have received many supportive messages from people near and far who appreciate Kate’s courage and importance of speaking out about the abuse of authority. We join with them in admiring her fortitude and serenity throughout the length of investigation.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Damian Green and Theresa May during Prime Minister's Question Time, hours before he was sacked.

A Labour spokesperson said: “It’s right that the Prime Minister has finally been forced to sack Damian Green.

“The public deserve the highest standards from ministers, which begs questions around the Prime Minister’s judgement and why she delayed this decision for so long. To lose her number two in government in such a way, and so soon after two other ministers, leaves her further weakened.”

Sophie Walker, of the Women’s Equality Party, said both the Conservatives and Labour continued to treat harassment as ‘episodic issues’ that can be resolved by sacking or suspending ministers and MPs.

“That Damian Green regrets being asked to quit, despite accepting that he breached the ministerial code, shows how many lessons he still has to learn about taking responsibility for his conduct,” Walker said.

“If he is not suitable to be minister because of his actions then he is not suitable to be an MP. It is bizarre that both he and Michael Fallon, who also resigned from Cabinet, think they retain legitimacy to stay on in Parliament.

“That decision should be given to their constituents, with a proper system of recall introduced so that they can decide whether these men should still be representing them.”