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One a day Live

Former Scotland Yard detective claims ’thousands’ of pornographic images found on British MP's computer

A retired Scotland Yard detective has claimed that ’thousands’ of pornographic images were discovered on UK Cabinet minister Damian Green’s computer during a raid on his Westminster office in 2008.

Friends of the embattled Cabinet minister have accused former police officers of seeking to blacken his name, after it was alleged that thousands of pornographic images had been found on his work computer.

Damian Green leaving his home today. Pic: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Retired Scotland Yard detective Neil Lewis told the BBC he was "shocked" at the volume of material found in a 2008 raid on Mr Green’s Westminster office and had "no doubt whatsoever" that it had been amassed by the Tory MP.

He stressed that none of the images were "extreme", but said analysis of the computer suggested they had been viewed "extensively" over a three-month period, sometimes for hours at a time.

Mr Green, who is the subject of a Cabinet Office inquiry into alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a young female activist, has denied looking at or downloading porn on the work computer.

The First Secretary of State - effectively UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy - declined to comment on Mr Lewis’s allegations.

But friends of Mr Green said they were "gobsmacked" at the former detective putting his claims into the public arena and "outraged" by the BBC’s decision to broadcast them.

And the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said it was launching its own inquiry about how information gathered during an investigation was made public.

Mr Lewis told the BBC he was involved in analysing the then opposition immigration spokesman’s computer during a police investigation into Home Office leaks.

Although accepting that "you can’t put fingers on a keyboard", he said a number of factors made him sure it was Mr Green himself who was accessing the "thumbnail" images.

"The computer was in Mr Green’s office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name," said Mr Lewis.

"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."

The allegations echo claims made by former Met assistant commissioner Bob Quick, who Mr Green branded "tainted and untrustworthy" after he went public last month with his account of the material discovered in the raid.

Damian Green

A spokesman for the Mr Green said: "It would be inappropriate for Mr Green to comment on these allegations while the Cabinet Office investigation is ongoing; however, from the outset he has been very clear that he never watched or downloaded pornography on the computers seized from his office.

"He maintains his innocence of these charges and awaits the outcome of the investigation."

Tory MP Andrew Mitchell said his friend was entitled to be taken at his word.

"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 is completely wrong," he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Mr Mitchell said it was "highly questionable" for a retired officer to use material in this way.

"Nine years later, after a pretty contentious raid of a senior politician’s office, entirely legal information is leaked to blacken the name of a serving Cabinet minister, and I think that is wrong," he said.

Another friend of Mr Green said he was "gobsmacked" and found it "deeply concerning that a former police officer who freely admits talking to Bob Quick is putting confidential and non-illegal details of a police investigation into the public domain, and equally outraged that the BBC would use such information from an unreliable source".

In a statement Scotland Yard said that, as is routine for such cases, its Directorate of Professional Standards would be conducting an inquiry into how the information was made public.

"Confidential information gathered during a police inquiry should not be made public," said the statement. "The appropriate course of action is to co-operate privately with the Cabinet Office inquiry, as the MPS has done."

Mr Lewis told the BBC it was unlikely anyone else in Mr Green’s office could have been responsible for the stash of porn.

"It was so extensive, whoever had done it would have to have pushed Mr Green to one side to say ’Get out, I’m using your computer’," he said.

And he rejected as "very bizarre" any suggestion the material might have been placed on the machine by a hacker, pointing out similar images were also found on Mr Green’s laptop.

Mr Lewis said he did not mention the pornography in his formal statement on his findings to his senior investigating officer, as it had "no bearing on the leak investigation".

But he kept a notebook relating to the raid after leaving the Met.

When instructed to delete data copied from the computers, he did so but kept the copies themselves in the knowledge experts would be able to retrieve the information if required.

Mr Lewis said he had decided to speak out after contacting Mr Quick to offer his support when his former boss came under attack from Mr Green, who has accused him of "character assassination" to cause political damage.

He said he had always been "uncomfortable" about the outcome of the investigation into Mr Green and found his denial that he had looked at porn on his work computer "amazing".

Downing Street declined to comment on the latest allegations.

David Davis

The Evening Standard reported that Brexit Secretary David Davis - who was Mr Green’s boss as shadow home secretary at the time of the raid - had threatened to quit if his colleague was forced out over material found by police.

The paper quoted a "mutual friend of Mr Davis and Mr Green" as saying the Brexit Secretary had made clear to Prime Minister Theresa May "in words of one syllable" that he would find it difficult to stay in his job if the First Secretary was forced out.

Asked about the report, a source close to Mr Davis said only: "It’s right that allegations of misconduct towards individuals are properly investigated, but police officers have a duty of confidentiality which should be upheld."

Speaking to reporters at his home, Mr Green said: "I’ve said I am not commenting any further while the investigation is going on.

"I have maintained all along and I still maintain - it is the truth - that I did not download or look at pornography on my computer, but obviously while the investigation is going on I can’t say any more."

British Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed the original raid on Mr Green’s office was a "scandal".

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Mr Rees-Mogg told BBC2’s Daily Politics: "The police behaved disgracefully as a political arm of the then government: they raided an opposition minister’s offices; they raided the House of Commons; this was a real scandal.

"And now the police, or ex-police, are using information obtained improperly to damage a politician.

"What we should be asking about is the politicisation of the police force under the last Labour government, not about Damian Green."

British Tory MP Crispin Blunt suggested Mr Green would have been too busy as a shadow minister to browse porn at work.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: "The account that Neil Lewis has given of the use of the computer, based simply on his notebooks from some time ago, so this is evidently pretty flaky, but on his own account it doesn’t bear the slightest relation to the kind of life a member of Parliament leads in the House of Commons.

"We don’t have time to sit in our offices breezing through leisure websites of whatever type, we largely move from one meeting to the next with very limited time to actually sit down and deal with emails and things which is why people do it on the run, on an iPad or on an iPhone and the pattern of behaviour that he evidences is wholly inconsistent with that of a busy shadow minister."