David Davis has come to the defence of Damian Green, indicating that he might resign if the first secretary of state were forced to quit as a result of the Cabinet Office investigation into inappropriate behaviour.
The Brexit secretary believes his cabinet colleague is the victim of a police vendetta and has made it clear to Theresa May that he would be willing to leave the government if he felt Green had been unfairly treated.
The threat emerged only hours after a former Metropolitan police detective came forward with fresh claims implying that Green himself had been viewing pornography found on his workplace computer when police raided his Commons office in November 2008.
Green was a shadow Home Office minister at the time and was under investigation because he had received a series of sensitive Home Office leaks. He denies viewing pornography on his parliamentary computer.
At the time, the Conservatives were fighting some of the Labour government’s law and order measures on libertarian grounds and Davis was a strong backer of Green’s work.
A friend of Davis was quoted in the Evening Standard on Friday saying the Brexit secretary had “put his cloak” around Green and would find it difficult to stay in his job if Green was forced out now because of what happened in 2008.
Another source close to Davis said: “It is right that allegations of misconduct towards individuals are properly investigated, but police officers have a duty of confidentiality which should be upheld.”
Green is the subject of a Cabinet Office inquiry by its head of propriety and ethics, Sue Gray. It began following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a young Conservative activist, Kate Maltby.
Since then, two former police officers have come forward and said there was evidence of pornography on Green’s Commons computer. The first was the former assistant commissioner Bob Quick, the second, former detective Neil Lewis, who went public for the first time on Friday.
Lewis said the internet history on the device seized in 2008 showed pornography had been viewed extensively because it contained thousands of thumbnail images of legal pornography.
In his first broadcast interview about the investigation, Lewis was asked by the BBC how he could be sure it was Green who accessed the images. He replied: “The computer was in Mr Green’s office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name.
“In between browsing pornography, he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents … it was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it.”
Lewis said he was shocked by what he found: “The shocking thing as I was viewing it, I noticed a lot of pornography: thumbnails, which indicated web browsing. There was a lot of them. I was surprised to see that on a parliament computer. I had to take a step back because I wasn’t expecting that.”
He said the images were not extreme, as earlier reports claimed, and featured no images of children or sexual abuse.
Green denied Lewis’s claims. Speaking to reporters he said: “I’ve said that I’m not commenting any further while the investigation is going on. I’ve maintained all along, I still maintain, it is the truth that I didn’t download or look at pornography on my computer. But obviously while the investigation is going on I can’t say any more at the moment.”
Another source with close knowledge of the 2008 Metropolitan police investigation said the police investigation into Green found pornographic material on a computer located in his personal parliamentary workspace, not the section used by his staff, and detectives concluded that the sexual material was viewed by someone who also had access to Green’s email account.
The 2008 Met investigation into Green was triggered by concerns about the leak of potentially sensitive material by a civil servant to Green, who was then Conservative immigration spokesperson. Green himself was arrested, and his parliamentary office, constituency office and home raided with computer equipment linked to Green seized. The computers were subjected to a forensic search.
Green’s parliamentary office had two sections, one where his staff worked, another which police concluded was a private space where Green worked. The computer is question was in that private section, the source added.
A forensic examination found the material was viewed over a period of months, with Green’s email account also being used on the same computer and in close temporal proximity to the sexual material being viewed. The source added that Green was not told of the discovery of the sexual material on the computer in his office, nor was he interviewed about it.
The investigation by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command led to no charges and criticism of the police’s actions.
Lewis now faces a Scotland Yard investigation into his decision to go public. The Met responded to his intervention by saying: “Confidential information gathered during a police inquiry should not be made public.”
A spokesperson said the case would be examined by the directorate of professional standards.
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