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Pressure is mounting on Theresa May’s effective deputy, Damian Green, after a detective who examined his computer said it contained thousands of pornographic images.
Axar.az reports citing Guardian that, the former Scotland Yard officer Neil Lewis said the internet history on the device, which was seized in 2008 while Green was an opposition spokesman, showed pornography had been viewed extensively.
Lewis, who retired from the Metropolitan police in 2014, claimed the device contained thousands of thumbnail images of legal pornography.
But he 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 that the case would be examined by the directorate of professional standards.
In his first broadcast interview about the investigation, Lewis was asked by the BBC how he could be sure it was Green, now the first secretary of state, who accessed the images. He said: “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 is the subject of a cabinet office inquiry by its head of propriety and ethics, Sue Gray, into allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a young Conservative activist, Kate Maltby.
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.”
Labour’s Jess Phillips, the chair of parliament’s women and equalities committee, said Green should resign if pornography was found on his computer.
“If what is being said, which I hope is being submitted to the proper investigation, is believed to be true on the balance of probabilities, then yes it does change things and Damian Green cannot stay in his position,” she said.
“The pressure is mounting on him. There is no illegality but would you be fired if you looked at pornography on your work computer? The problem for me in all of this is how people use their power to not live by the same rules that everybody else has to.”
She conceded that Lewis may have be wrong in publicising confidential information about Green, but she added: “Both people can be in the wrong and there still has to be a case to answer.”
The Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell accused Lewis and Quick of trying of blacken the name of his friend.
He told Today: “Mr Green has been absolutely emphatic repeatedly that he never downloaded nor viewed this material. And I think that Mr Green is entitled to be believed. You are not guilty until proven so in this country. I think the hounding of Mr Green over information which everyone is clear was entirely legal, and which he has emphatically denied either downloading or viewing his completely wrong.”
Mitchell, who lost a libel case against the Sun newspaper over a report that he called a police officers “fucking plebs”, added: “Nine years later, after a pretty contentious raid of a senior politicians office, entirely legal information is now leaked to blacken the name of a serving cabinet minister. And I think that is wrong.”
He added: “The police need to explain why there was any record kept of entirely legal activity. He [Lewis] says he is doing it to back up his friend Bob Quick. I don’t think it is proper for retired police officers to behave in this way. I don’t think it is giving Mr Green natural justice.”
Lewis said he had not been contacted by Gray, but the cabinet office was aware of his role in examining Green’s computers.
The search of Green’s computer was made when he was shadow immigration minister, as part of Operation Miser, an investigation into Home Office leaks.
Lewis said: “When I left the police I kept one notebook and that was the notebook for Operation Miser, because that was the case that I was uncomfortable with.”
Lewis said he was motivated to come forward when he read Green denying claims by his superior, Bob Quick, the former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, who told the Sunday Times that pornography had been found on the politician’s computer.
“His outright denial of that was quite amazing followed by his criticism of Bob Quick,” Lewis said.
He added: “I contacted Bob Quick to offer my support.”
Asked if it was possible for anyone else to access Green’s machine, Lewis said: “It was so extensive, whoever had done it would have had to push Mr Green to one side to say ‘get out, I’m using your computer’.”
He also dismissed a suggestion that a mistake could have been made. Lewis said: “I was the one who seized it from Portcullis House. I was the one who examined it, photographed it. I deal with computer forensics. That’s what I do, I produce digital evidence to court in relation to terrorists at the Old Bailey.”
The senior Labour MP Hillary Benn said the cabinet office should examine Lewis’s claims, but he stopped short of calling for his resignation.
Benn told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are all waiting for the outcome of it and clearly it should look at all available evidence in reaching a decision. All evidence that is relevant to the inquiry should be considered by the cabinet office. There is a process and we should let it do its work.”
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality party, accused Conservative politicians of double standards by defending Green after staying silent about allegation of sexual harassment, calling their backing for the minister “extraordinary”.
Extraordinary story of @DamianGreen even more extraordinary that colleagues will defend him to the hilt, but were silent or dismissive when their female colleagues spoke of sexual harassment in Westminster. #r4today #jointhedots #joinWE— Sophie Walker (@SophieRunning) December 1, 2017
2017.12.01 / 16:59