Prime minister Theresa May sought a second opinion from her independent adviser on ministers’ interests before demanding that first secretary of state Damian Green resign for lying about a police investigation into pornography on one of his computers, it has emerged.
Green’s own Cabinet Office launched an investigation into his behaviour last month following allegations over his professional conduct into both the 2008 Metropolitan Police investigation that found the porn and allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards the journalist Kate Maltby.
The probe, led by Cabinet Office head of propriety and ethics Sue Gray who reported to Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, found that Green had breached the ministerial code.
A summary of its findings said: “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.
“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 report said it “not possible to reach a definitive conclusion” on the concerns raised by Maltby – who said Green had made an unwanted advance towards her in 2015 with the suggestion that it might further her career, and subsequently sent her an indecent text message. But it said the investigation had found her account to be “plausible”.
Green denies downloading or viewing pornography on his parliamentary computers, but apologised in a letter to May for making misleading statements in relation to the extent of his knowledge about the police investigations.
He also apologised for causing distress to Maltby, but insisted he “[did] not recognise the events she described”.
A letter from the prime minister to Green, dated December 20 and published last night, clearly indicated that she had sacked the first secretary of state and Cabinet Office minister.
May said she had carefully considered the report’s conclusions in relation to Green’s November 4 and November 11 statements, and noted that he now accepted they were “inaccurate and misleading”.
“This falls short of the Seven Principles of Public Life and is a breach of the ministerial code – a conclusion which has been endorsed by Sir Alex Allan, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests,” she wrote.
“It is therefore with deep regret, and enduring gratitude for the contribution you have made over many years, that I asked you to resign from the government and have accepted your resignation.”
In a response confirming his resignation, Green noted that he was pleased the report had concluded that his conduct as a minister had “generally been both professional and proper”.
Green was made first secretary of state and Cabinet Office minister after May’s disastrous snap general election in June.
He was work and pensions secretary from July last year, prior to which he was a junior minister in the Home Office under May and a shadow home affairs minister in opposition from 2005 to 2010.