British Prime Minister Theresa May has forced her most senior minister, Damian Green, to resign after an internal investigation found he had made misleading comments about pornography on computers in his parliamentary office.
The resignation of one of May’s most trusted allies, who had helped pacify her deeply divided party, is a blow as she navigates the final year of tortuous negotiations towards Britain’s exit from the European Union in March 2019.
Green, who voted to stay in the EU, was appointed as first secretary of state just six months ago in a bid to shore up May’s premiership following her disastrous bet on a June snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament.
But Green’s future was thrust into doubt when the Sunday Times newspaper reported in November that police in 2008 had found pornography on his office computers in the Houses of Parliament.
In response, Green said the story was untrue.
A review, requested by May and conducted by a senior government official, concluded that Green’s statements which suggested he was not aware that indecent material had been found on the computers, were “inaccurate and misleading.”
The inquiry, a summary of which was distributed by May’s Downing Street office, found he had breached rules governing the behavior of ministers.
“I regret that I’ve been asked to resign from the government following breaches of the Ministerial Code, for which I apologise,” Green said in a letter to May, who said she had accepted his resignation with deep regret.
Green, 61, said he did not download or view pornography on his parliamentary computers.
He added that he should have been clearer about his statements after the story broke.
May’s defence minister, Michael Fallon, quit in November for unspecified conduct which he said had fallen below required standards.
Her aid minister resigned a week later after holding undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.
The internal investigation found that Green’s conduct as a minister was generally “professional and proper” but found two statements he made on Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 to be inaccurate and misleading.
In the statements he had suggested he was not aware that indecent material was found on parliamentary computers in his office.
Green said in his resignation letter that he did not recognise the account of events, but apologised to the woman, academic and critic Kate Maltby, for making her feel uncomfortable.