Damian Green appears to shift ground on computer porn denials

Patrick Sawer
Damian Green stands in silence at the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service in London - REUTERS

Theresa May's de-facto Deputy Prime Minister appears to have retreated from his previous outright denial about extreme porn being found on his computer as he continues to fight for his political life.

Damian Green had previously rejected claims that any pornographic material had been found on his personal computer.

On November 4 he issued a statement saying: “This story is completely untrue and comes from a tainted and untrustworthy source. The police have never suggested to me that improper material was found on my Parliamentary computer, nor did I have a ‘private’ computer as has been claimed.

“The allegations about the material and computer, now nine years old, are false, disreputable smears.”

But he appeared to shift ground after the former Metropolitan Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, confirmed on November 12 that he was informed that detectives had found pornographic material on a work computer seized when Mr Green was a shadow minister.

Sources said Mr Stephenson did not consider it a criminal matter at the time, but his confirmation that such material was found on one of Mr Green’s computer piled more pressure on the Deputy PM.

Now Mr Green has issued second statement, this time appearing to concede that porn had been found on the computer, but denying that he had downloaded it or viewed it at all.

In a statement issued Friday night he said: “As I have said throughout I did not put or view pornography on the computers taken from my office.”

Damian Green is driven away from his home in London on November 6, after claims of sexual harassment were made against him Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Although no legal action can now be taken against anyone for the images, the Whitehall inquiry into Mr Green's conduct is now looking  at the allegations and his initial response to them.

It was ordered by Mrs May following a claim that he made an inappropriate advance to journalist Kate Maltby. Mr Green said the claim is "untrue and deeply hurtful".

A Downing St spokesman said: "We do not comment on ongoing investigations."

Mr Green’s change of emphasis came after it was claimed that the material on his computer was viewed on “an almost daily basis”.

Some of the images found on the computer were so extreme that police sought advice from the CPS on whether to prosecute.

But no relevant law was in place when Mr Green's office was raided in November 27, 2008, during an inquiry into government leaks.

The law was changed eight weeks later. It was not retrospective so did not apply to the material.

A source close to the investigation told The Sun: "Porn was being accessed on an almost virtual daily basis. Police were told nothing could be done.

"Quite simply, it was not illegal to be in possession of extreme images before January 2009.

"If the raid had happened a few weeks later it would have been."

It remains unclear who could have downloaded the porn, which it is understood did not feature sexual images of children.

Accessing extreme porn became illegal under sections 63 to 67 of the 2008 Crime and Immigration Act which came into force on January 26, 2009.

It followed a four-year campaign by the parents of Jane Longhurst, whose killer Graham Coutts, had a strangulation fetish and accessed violent images of simulated murders and rapes.

The 2009 law made it illegal to possess images featuring acts which threaten life, cause serious injury to a person's private parts or depict sex with animals or a corpse.

Keir Starmer, the then Director of Public Prosecutions and now a Labour front-bencher, is said to have been consulted over the images on Mr Green's Commons computer.