British Prime Minister Theresa May forced her most senior minister, Damian Green, to resign for lying about whether he knew pornography had been found on computers in his parliamentary office.
The resignation of one of May’s closest political allies, who had helped pacify her deeply divided party, is a blow as she navigates the final year of tortuous negotiations ahead of 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 last month 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 because the police had told him about the indecent material.
“I apologize that my statements were misleading on this point,” Green said in a letter to May. “I regret that I’ve been asked to resign from the government.”
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 said she had asked him to resign and accepted his resignation with deep regret.
He is the most senior British politician to fall since the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal triggered a debate about a culture of abuse by some powerful men at the heart of Westminster.
May’s defense minister, Michael Fallon, quit last month 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.
Green said in his resignation letter that he did not recognize the account of events, but apologized to the woman, academic and critic Kate Maltby, for making her feel uncomfortable.