Damian Green inquiry to examine influence of Daily Mail article

Jessica Elgot Political reporter
Damian Green is the subject of a Cabinet Office inquiry into alleged sexual harassment. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

The Cabinet Office inquiry into the conduct of Damian Green is set to examine whether allies of the first secretary of state influenced a negative Daily Mail article about the woman who accused him of harassment, the Guardian understands.

The inquiry into Green, who is de-facto deputy prime minister, is due to conclude this week. Conservative activist and writer Kate Maltby, who is 30 years younger than Green, has told the inquiry she believes Green appeared to solicit sex from her in exchange for political mentoring.

After Maltby’s allegations were published, she was profiled by the Mail’s Andrew Pierce in a piece that called her “one very pushy lady” and said she was “determined to make it in politics – whatever the cost”.

Downing Street said the investigation into Green was ongoing. On Monday night, ITV News reported that Green was expected to keep his job.

In the original piece for the Times, which prompted the inquiry, Maltby said Green had fleetingly touched her knee during a meeting in a Waterloo pub in 2015 to talk about her political career, as he mentioned that his own wife was “very understanding”. She then “felt a fleeting hand against my knee – so brief it was almost deniable”.

Maltby, who writes regularly for the Times, said Green also sent her a suggestive text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in the newspaper.

Green denies the allegations. After the article was published, he said the meeting was “two friends agreeing to meet for a regular catchup – and nothing more ... This untrue allegation has come as a complete shock and is deeply hurtful, especially from someone I considered a personal friend”.

The inquiry has been subsequently expanded to take in claims that pornography was found on his House of Commons computer when it was raided in 2008 as part of an inquiry into Home Office leaks. Green has denied accessing or viewing pornography on his computer.

The inquiry by the Cabinet Office’s Sue Gray, the director general of the propriety and ethics team, is due to report in the coming days. It is understood she has been asked to examine whether Green or his allies influenced the Mail article about Maltby that followed her piece accusing Green.

The piece, which drew significant criticism after it was published, suggested Maltby’s parents were “aghast at what she had done” by accusing Green, which she denies. The piece said she had a “flair for self-promotion” and was “keen to make her mark in politics” having helped set up the liberal Tory thinktank BrightBlue.

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